New thread

Because the one below is driving me nuts, and I can’t put up a new post right now.

One commenter below linked to this intriguing article. I think it’s well worth discussing.

For months, the 20,000 villagers who live in Wukan, near Shanwei city in Guangdong province, have protested first at having nearly £100 million of their land seized and sold off by the local government, and then at the brutal tactics used by police to regain control of the village.

The latest protests began on Sunday, when police attempting to arrest a villager were repelled by villagers armed with sticks. The police fired tear gas before retreating.

At the same time, the local government brought the village’s simmering anger to a boil by admitting that Xue Jinbo, a 43-year-old butcher who had represented the villagers in their negotiations with the government, had died in police custody of “cardiac failure”.

Mr Xue was taken into custody last week and accused of inciting riots. Mr Xue was widely believed to have been tortured, perhaps to death, and his family were rumoured to have found several of his bones broken when receiving his corpse.

I know, we do this sort of thing — and much worse — in America every day.
[Update - that closing line is strictly for my trolls, who feel compelled always to make this comparison.]

______________

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: 94 Comments

Are you kidding? Saying that “this sort of thing” goes on in America is an exaggeration at best, and to call it “much worse” is ridiculous. In America, a cop pepper sprays a few students and it’s all over the media and Internet for weeks… in China, people disappear every day and it’s never mentioned. Making this sort of comparison does nothing other than trivialize the Chinese situation.

December 14, 2011 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

BP, I was being extremely sarcastic. My trolls automatically argue that no matter what happens in China, the US is worse (don’t forget those American Indians or the My Lai Massacre). Obviously what’s described in that article can’t happen in the US, or at least not with massive media coverage and someone going to jail for a long time. For all America’s egregious faults there’s a lot to say for a relatively free media and a functional if imperfect rule of law.

December 14, 2011 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

To Richard,
actually, if previously stated principles are adhered to by those who stated them, this story by itself begets no comparisons. But you’ve opened the door now by introducing a comparison, so it’s going to be happy hour at the comparison factory. That said, you’ve stipulated, however sarcastically and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, that America is worse, so it might absolve the need for comparison (but I doubt it).

December 14, 2011 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

Positively brilliant photos.

Cadres. Corrupt bullies when on top and cowardly retreatists when the power relationship is reversed. Not exactly the iron willed agents of social managemnent are they?

Makes one wonder about the prospects of this movement spreading to other counties and provinces.

December 14, 2011 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

Firstly the article is a British newspaper article, so we can be pretty sure the true context of what happened has not been provided.

Secondly, while I don’t doubt that there are all sorts of outrageous goings on in China on a daily basis, the same could be said of any other developing country. ‘Democracy’, a ‘free’ media, etc would not necessarily help. After all ‘democracies’ such as India have exactly the same sorts of problemns – only a lot worse.

As for deaths in custody, of people being wrongly killed by the police, we can be sure that the US is hardly immune to this sort of thing, and a lot of it is probably not even reported about.

What about the infamous Vincent Chin case?

As for who is worse, China or the US, it is probably the US. After all the sum total of excess deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan this past decade is probably in excess of half a million at a bare minimum.

December 14, 2011 @ 2:51 pm | Comment

*looks around.

Is it safe?

I abandoned the thread below somewhere around 200 something I forget comments. Did I miss anything after I bailed?

December 14, 2011 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

SK, the comparison is inevitable anyway, and I want to make it clear from the start that the US isn’t guiltless.

CP, do UK media only print lies? The Vincent Chin case generated a huge public outcry and was never censored, even if the prison sentences were too light. It was followed by successful civil lawsuits and the story was never suppressed. It’s what I mean when I say the US law system is far from perfect, but it sure beats having no accountability.

December 14, 2011 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

“CP, do UK media only print lies?”

Even if not outright lies, they report things out of context, add their own embellishments, omit detail, with the end result being that the article often provides a grotesque distortion of reality.

Assuming the Telegraph to be a reliable source of news on China, is frankly speaking, no better than using Xinhua, and perhaps even worse.

“The Vincent Chin case generated a huge public outcry”

It is a good thing there was a pubic outcry. But that does not change the fact that Vincent Chin was murdered and there was no justice delivered in this case. A free press is of course a good thing.

Do we know for sure that China is really worse for police brutality than the US? Do we really know for sure that there is more injustice in China than there is in the US? I think not.

A free media is a good thing; But if say the US has an imprisonment rate seven or eight times higher than China’s, then that is an appalling fact that cannot simply be mitigated by saying it is OK, because at least in the US you can openly talk about it.

December 14, 2011 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

“But you’ve opened the door now by introducing a comparison, so it’s going to be happy hour at the comparison factory.”

Comparisons are of course important.

If we say China has a bad human rights record, then of course it is bad relative to another country. If Norway, say is considered to be ‘good’ in the area of human rights, it is because it compares well, against some set of agreed criteria, to other countries in the world.

If we say someone is a fast runner, then he is fast only because he is faster than most other people. If most of the world’s population could run a sub 10 second 100 m.

A 4 GB hard drive 10 years ago was considered big. Because it was bigger than most others around at that time and previous to that time.

Now 4 GB is nothing. Because there are now 1 and 2 TB drives commonly available.

Comparison is unavoidable when evaluating a country on its human rights performance.

December 14, 2011 @ 11:53 pm | Comment

correction to previous post: If most of the world’s population could run a sub 10 second 100 m, then running a 10.04 s 100 m would not be impressive anymore.

December 14, 2011 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

And let me say this: having sympathy for the victims of government abuse is not saying the country is bad. China is not bad. It’s a great country, and its rulers have done a lot of good, which I always acknowledge. They also do some appalling things that defy comprehension. The US may have done horrible things in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were publicly aired, we all know about them, the government could not stop the media from telling us about them, and those raising hell were not sent to black jails. I only post stuff like this because I love China, and there are many posts here that prove that. I think most commenters here love China or they wouldn’t be here.

There are things about the US I despise. No. 1 on my list at the moment is the shocking anti-Islam fervor that has gripped the Republican Party’s base, a deranged and dangerous trend. I actually give my nemesis George W. Bush credit for trying to prevent the hatred of and discrimination against Muslims. And I don’t forgive our many excesses. And trust me, if I ever heard a story about the US government seizing land and tear-gassing villagers it would be right up at the top of this blog, just as stories of the Iraq War dominated this blog in the mid-2000s. I despise terror against innocents, reckless brutality and blatant suppression, whether committed by the US or China. Unfortunately these stories are abundant in China, and most don’t even get told. Here I’m free to blog about our atrocities and we can throw the perpetrators out in disgrace. An imperfect system, to say the least, but it does protect the rights of its citizens and allows them to rally against unfairness, as in the aforementioned case of Vincent Chin, and the uproar against the pepper-spraying of students sitting on the sidewalk (and I posted about that atrocity below).

The central government has embarked on a public campaign to close down the black jails and stop the illegal detention of petitioners, and I give them credit for that. A lot of the horrors are committed at the local level but many, like the detention of Ai Weiwei, come from the top. In many ways I think the central government is trying to move in the right direction, and really does want what is best for its people. Unfortunately, the way the system works, with corruption allowing employers and local officials to commit outrageous crimes against China’s “ordinary people” and to get away with it, more stories of crimes and cover-ups will continue. And that is really heartbreaking, and when I hear stories like this I’m going to blog about them.

December 14, 2011 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

These kind of land grabs are expected to become more frequent, not less, as local governments scramble for new sources of revenue in a downturn against which fresh lending is not likely to be forthcoming.

Quite a novel way to wield the Vincent Chin case there.

December 15, 2011 @ 12:00 am | Comment

It’s quite typical to point to a murder that took place 30 years ago and that generated a firestorm of public opinion and compare it to the story quoted in this post. Murders and injustice happen, to Chinese Americans and to native-born Americans. No justice system is airtight, and I can point to many gross miscarriages of justice in US history, like the piddling sentence given to Dan White for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone. You’re always going to have miscarriages of justice like that, but they don’t negate the fact that we do have rule of law that works as well as can be expected, and Chin’s trial was followed by successful civil suits, even if the penalties were inadequate in my eyes. These cannot be compared to the terrorizing of thousands of people and regular beatings and imprisonments. And as I said, when the US military and its contractors terrorized many Iraqis I blogged like hell about it. This is an equal-opportunity blog when it comes to human rights.

December 15, 2011 @ 12:10 am | Comment

Again Richard, you are asking for comparisons by making a sarcastic comparison to China.

The US may have done horrible things in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were publicly aired, we all know about them, the government could not stop the media from telling us about them

You might be partially right – but ask 100,000 Americans and I’m sure not even 10% of them will know that 600,000 (at least) Iraqis have died.

America’s media is predominantly owned by a small group of people who serve their own interests first, whereas China’s is owned by the government. The difference is that China doesn’t pretend to be “fair and balanced” and as a result no one believes they are.

So what else did media corporations in America miss? How about how basically NO ONE mentioned that Mubarak’s Egypt was an American ally (no one that the vast majority of Americans pay any attention to, at least) subsidized to the tune of billions every year. There’s a reason why so many of the 9-11 hijackers were Egyptian, but if you ask most Americans they’ll just say because “A-rabs hate our freedoms”.

Few are willing to admit that Saudi Arabia, that forbids women from driving and recently executed one for “witchcraft and sorcery” is also an American ally.

There are plenty of other instances of police brutality (resulting in deaths) that you haven’t mentioned. I can think of three right off the top of my head, a half-blind autistic Korean American student being shot to death for walking around with a pocket knife, a man being murdered in his own home after his house was stormed for a bad drug tip-off, and an 80 or so year old woman who was gunned down when the police raided the wrong house.

No knock warrant, and the guy was wielding a golf-club or something. So he was shot several times and killed on the spot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz26Ixqs4Og

Nothing you have said argues against my main point which is that the American media has a responsibility to keep the people apprised of important events and present an unbiased view. It does neither, and a quick polling of the general population can prove it.

40% of Americans thought China was the largest economy in the world, thanks to yellow peril fearmongering.

December 15, 2011 @ 2:57 am | Comment

My mistake, most the hijackers were Saudi with one Egyptian and one Emirati, but hey, Iran is the problem!

December 15, 2011 @ 3:01 am | Comment

Never mind…

December 15, 2011 @ 3:06 am | Comment

I’m still waiting for someone to explain how killing 600,000 Iraqis is in any way comparable to scum local officials beating the crap out of a single innocent man, not to mention all of the cases of fatal police brutality in the US that Richard casually ignores.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:13 am | Comment

I mean, if Richard is going to make a snide remark implying that China is worse (or America is better) after every single one of his allegedly “neutral” posts, it’s worth explaining.

I’ve been looking through post history and the formula is always something like this:

Today some unfortunate event happened in China (at least here we have rule of law and a free press that cares so much about society!)
Just yesterday some horrible crime happened in America. See how open we are about our problems? See how unbiased I am! (p.s. China is worse, to say the least)

I can’t tell if you’re trolling or you actually believe this crap, Richard.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:24 am | Comment

Case in point: “My country” – http://www.pekingduck.org/2011/12/new-thread-5/

“A friend in China tells me CCTV is playing this again and again, and I don’t blame them. They want to make the US look bad”

Now it’s suddenly about China. Forget what actually happened, lets focus on what my friend says the CCTV is allegedly doing to make the US look bad. America suddenly becomes the victim.

Biased Western media coverage of the “Jasmine Revolution” – http://www.pekingduck.org/2011/03/biased-western-media-coverage-of-the-jasmine-revolution/

“Yes, there sure as hell IS Western media bias against China (though when you compare it to China’s media bias against the West it may seem relatively mild, to say the least)”

You try to diminish the extent of the bias of the West’s media against China, and then make the unsubstantiated claim that China does it back worse – unless you’re alluding to their laughably “the West is our friend and LOOOOOVES us” extravaganzas. Again, the “West” is the victim.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:36 am | Comment

I saw Richard’s remark as an effort to inoculate this thread against the tu quoque truth squad. Clearly it didn’t work.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:42 am | Comment

Cookie, I’m placing you in moderation again for being an idiot.

“A friend in China tells me CCTV is playing this again and again, and I don’t blame them. They want to make the US look bad”

Now it’s suddenly about China. Forget what actually happened, lets focus on what my friend says the CCTV is allegedly doing to make the US look bad. America suddenly becomes the victim.

If you read what I wrote you would see what I meant — that America DID look bad and that CCTV was RIGHT to point to it. The post was called My Country and it was all about how I ashamed I was of what my country was doing. But you can’t see that. You can’t be reasoned with and I don’t want to put up with your hostility and hysteria. You aren’t banned, but I’m holding your comments for moderation again after you failed probation.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:52 am | Comment

Looking further up, Kookie, I see that just about everything you say is false. The media constantly wrote about how Egypt was an ally we gave big bucks to, like Pakistan. All the media wrote about the dilemma this posed for Obama. Everyone knows we are Saudi Arabia’s ally. Christ, did you see the photo of GW Bush holding hands with the Saudi king? Front-page news everywhere. Seriously, you write just one lie after another, and your ignorance is equaled only by your hostility. I could go on and on about the inaccuracies in your comments, but why should I bother? You live to highjack threads and to be incendiary.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:00 am | Comment

To CPGBML:
you’re prejudiced against the Telegraph. I get it. But it’s prejudice nonetheless, because you don’t believe this particular story not based on its own merits, but based on your past impression and experience with the Telegraph.

If you have specific issues with this story, then you should state them. But your prejudices against the Telegraph, by themselves, hardly disavow or negate the details of this particular event in question.

On what basis do you say that the US has more police brutality or in-custody deaths? There is no way you can say that the US has more, cuz we simply don’t know for sure how often it happens in CHina. It is this lack of transparency under the CCP that is the problem, above and beyond police misconduct itself.

The US imprisonment rate has absolutely nothing to do with police brutality or in-custody deaths, or “injustice”. It’s apples and oranges, and hardly relevant here.

If you’re prepared to stipulate that “a free media is a good thing”, then at the very least, that is one good thing that China sorely lacks, and could certainly use more of.

Comparisons can be important when used appropriately, and when comparing comparable things. The busy-bees at the comparison factory are usually not so discerning. If saying someone runs fast, then that requires comparison to another runner, or at least an objective standard. If saying China has a bad human rights record, that begets comparison with another nation with a good one. What aspects of this story currently require comparison? We have a CHinese village being surrounded and cut off by local Chinese authorities. We have a relatively young man who died in police custody for no particular reason. Are comparisons necessary to say that there is something wrong with this picture? Maybe they are for you, and if that is the case, to each his own.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:03 am | Comment

And if I had any misgivings about moderating Kookie again they are gone now. He just tried to post some of the nastiest, most vile comments I’ve seen since Mongol Warrior. CM, I tried hard to give you some latitude but you just won’t let me.

Good points, SKC.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:27 am | Comment

To #15 etc:
you really are as predictable as the tides.

This thread is about Wukan, and Chinese authorities laying siege to her own people in it, as well as a rather inexplicable in-custody death. What does this have to do with American media, American awareness of Iraqi casualties, or American knowledge of the size of China’s economy? Yes, Richard baited you with a sarcastic comparison. But the least you can do if to make a relevant comparison in response, rather than trotting out the usual stand-bys that you’ve repeated ad nauseum. How about an example of an American town/village held under seige by US cops, where US authorities have cut off 20,000 people from supplies and food? That might be a relevant comparison. That would actually be respectable according to your own principles, as oppposed to the same old stuff over and over again.

The fact that you can recall police in-custody deaths off the top of your head means either one of two things: (a) you were there; or (b) you heard about it in the media. Assuming it’s (b), media has done its job of making you aware. And that’s a lot more than Chinese people can say about Chinese media, since any reference to Wukan appears to have been scrubbed from the Chinese internet.

“I’m still waiting for someone to explain how killing 600,000 Iraqis is in any way comparable to scum local officials beating the crap out of a single innocent man”
—you’re right. It’s not comparable. So why are you comparing them?!? Apples and oranges, remember? Oh, and they did more than beat the crap out of him. They killed him.

“not to mention all of the cases of fatal police brutality in the US that Richard casually ignores.”
—well, Richard is running a blog about China after all…so…I dunno…maybe it’s not all that relevant, perhaps.

And seriously, what’s with the cherry picking? You try to make a point based on half of what Richard wrote, and ignore this (“and in this case they don’t have to try very bad; the US hasn’t looked this awful since Abu Ghraib. Heads should roll over this atrocity.”) Seriously, how disingenuous do you need to be? Richard isn’t blaming CCTV; he’s blaming Americans. Yet you take only part of his words to make a cheap and stupid point which is so easily refuted.

The other thing is you’ve made 5 comments on this thread ( including one throw-away), and you’ve referred in passing to the events which spawned this thread one (1) time. If that’s not trolling, I don’t know what is. Stick to the topic, dude. Save your rants about the US for Philly Cheesesteak, a purported blog about the US which, if not yet in existence, you would be the perfect dude to start it up. There, your endless quibbles about the US might actually have some relevance.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:42 am | Comment

Look, Richard, putting in an emotional response to an incident like this misses the point entirely. There are a lot of institutional factors at work here:

1. Cadres whose promotions are tied to economic growth and not popularity
2. Statistics bureaus who overcount large development projects and undercount other types of econ growth
3. A banking system whose collateral policy favors large land development projects
4. A central government beholden to special interest groups which benefit from the prior three set of policies
5. A citizenry without proper means of redress–and many more issues.

The proper response shouldn’t just be limited to getting mad. There are small, concrete steps (beyond demonizing the party or China’s “system”) that we can take to make things better, such as encouraging middle-class coalitions interested in property rights and consumer rights, and discouraging investment-led growth that we can take (and that the next generation of Party leaders is supportive of–see Li Keqiang’s and Xi Jinping’s records in their respective provinces).

In that sense, the best way to do it is to simply gather up all the information you can about how things work *well* in a developed society, and slowly educate decisionmakers in the country. That’s the sort of change that will get results–getting mad about the problem is just not enough.

December 15, 2011 @ 5:37 am | Comment

Try the latest Malcolm Moore update which provides even more background and new developments.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8957048/Wukan-siege-Chinese-officials-hold-village-to-ransom.html

He and Custer are absolutely killing other global media incl the NYT on this one.

December 15, 2011 @ 6:09 am | Comment

SKC I know you like sparring with Kooky but I’ve really had enough of him. Sorry I opened the door for his rants.

December 15, 2011 @ 6:16 am | Comment

T-co, where did I get mad?

December 15, 2011 @ 6:18 am | Comment

And how did Malcolm Moore get to first hand report.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/106468378347740234551/posts/cGLTZvczzWR

Cojones

December 15, 2011 @ 6:24 am | Comment

I like that, he tailed and a government vehicle and the police didn’t even slow him down.

As John McClane said, “Get yourself a blocker and head to the end-zone!”

December 15, 2011 @ 6:42 am | Comment

I agree with t-co’s intermediate steps. The problem arises if/when middle class rights or consumer rights collide with what the government wants. Under China’s “system” as it stands right now, there’s only one way that would play out. So it becomes semantic. If changes are desired that can’t exist without a fundamental change in the system, then it is difficult for the status quo/current “system” to not come in for some criticism. And if China’s system ever changed to accomodate some of those rights, it would no longer fundamentally be the same system that exists now.

This Wukan incident is fascinating. Under Chinese law, I’d like to find out how legitimate the villagers’ complaints are. Are they saying the local government didn’t have the authority to sell land? Are they saying it was their land? (seems unlikely since at best they have a lease on the land rather than clear title ownership). Are they saying local officials enriched themselves rather than the community with the land sales?

Also interesting to observe the apparent solidarity of that many people. Hopefully this plays out in a way that is not at all reminiscent of TAM.

December 15, 2011 @ 7:51 am | Comment

@SKC Dealing with pc problems here, so can’t back check the following. I think it is over a very large parcels of land which has location, location and location and sold to a HK developer. The maximum leaders and county financial officer have been in power since 1980s, live in rice field mansions (four stories) and would they be beyond corrupt. Also it seems that they have been systematically looting the local govt accounts.

December 15, 2011 @ 9:02 am | Comment

“Are they saying the local government didn’t have the authority to sell land? Are they saying it was their land? (seems unlikely since at best they have a lease on the land rather than clear title ownership)”

As far as I am aware land is not privately owned in China, but only leased from the government. Perhaps the villagers lease ran out and the local authorities decided to try and make big bucks by selling it to corporate interests. I really do not know. I have no doubt that like every developing country China has these types of problems with corrupt local officials. And yes, a media which is free to report on these types of events could contribute to reducing them.

But really relying on a Telegraph article to find the truth is as absurd as relying on a Xinhua article to find the truth on some unjustified police slaying in the US.

But certainly on the face of it there is some major injustice going on. But it would seem to be something related more to corrupt venal local officials than something that reflects government policy.

December 15, 2011 @ 10:08 am | Comment

If you have specific issues with this story, then you should state them.

Thats almost like asking one to prove a negative.

Again, I ask you, would you even bother to go to China’s official media to find the truth on some wrongdoing of the US government, post the link and invite ‘serious’ discussion? Of course not.

December 15, 2011 @ 10:12 am | Comment

You have obviously not read all his reports which have been written onsite.

Lets see how Xinhua reports this development.

Outside trouble makers.

A minority of social delinquents.

OWS imports

Criminal elements.

Why is Wen silent on this after years of his bleating.

Hillary Clintons cats paws

The list is endless.

December 15, 2011 @ 11:29 am | Comment

To CPGBML:
I share your understanding about land leases. I was also of the impression that rural land leases and urban land leases are of different duration. As I said, I don’t have many of the details beyond what Moore has reported. For instance, was the land sold while the villagers still had lease rights to it? Now, governments of all levels sell land to developers all the time to make money and to expand the tax base. That by itself should not be a problem. On the other hand, there should be some understanding that profits from land sales enrich the community, rather than paying for mansions for corrupt officials. But clearly, there are myriad unanswered questions here.

As you say, shining a light on corruption is a good way to try to reduce it. That is what’s lacking in China under the current “system”. I also agree this is a local issue rather than one that implicates the central government. However, the lack of transparency is something that permeates the Chinese government as currently constituted, from top to bottom.

Using a xinhua article to shed light on a US in-custody death is indeed absurd, but it’s not because xinhua is patently incapable of reporting on it. It’s because there are 1001 US news outlets that would be reporting on it already, with better sources. You could reach for the xinhua article, but why would you, when better alternatives are abound? This is diametrically different from the current Wukan situation. How much news is there on the topic in Chinese media? Did they stop scrubbing any mention of Wukan off of Weibo, or are they still doing it? Is “Wukan” still a disallowed internet search term due to “relevant laws”? When you’re dealing with that kind of environment, and the Telegraph is currently the best you can get, then it’s the best you can get. There is no alternative.

No one is asking you to prove a negative. You just need to recognize your prejudices. If Moore’s articles on the current Wukan situation are factually incorrect, it is not “proving a negative” to identify such factual errors. If you’re telling people that THIS ARTICLE is not reliable, you need to tell people why the contents of THIS ARTICLE should not be relied upon. So far your argument seems to boil down to ‘the Telegraph is always wrong’, which by itself is not compelling, and also unlikely to be true.

Again, I wouldn’t go to Chinese media for evidence of US wrongdoing since I can find that stuff in US media. If you want people to stop going to UK media for evidence of Chinese wrongdoing, you should stop complaining about UK media, and wonder about why Chinese media isn’t doing its job, or isn’t being allowed to.

December 15, 2011 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

Using a xinhua article to shed light on a US in-custody death is indeed absurd, but it’s not because xinhua is patently incapable of reporting on it. It’s because there are 1001 US news outlets….

You miss the point. My point was simply this. That the Telegraph can be relied upon to be as biased and one-sided as what Xinhua obviously is. Perhaps more so.

Therefore it is not wise to consider it to be a reliable source of news on China.

As for your ’1001′ US news outlets, they all more or less sing from the same song sheet. The US is god’s gift to humanity, China is evil. That they do report on US misdeeds on occassion does not change their overall bias.

The UK media is of course similar, perhaps even worse than the US, when it comes to manipulating public opinion.

I will give you an example. A week or so ago the Daily Mail published pictures of some female prisoners on the final night of their execution. The article included these lines:

“But so sensitive were the photographs, that the authorities banned them from being published. The Government feared they would evoke sympathy for the female prisoners….Until now they had remained unseen. However, last week the pictures were published for the first time on Phoenix TV, a broadcaster in Hong Kong”
http://tinyurl.com/cb8abp3

Complete and utter lies which are simply a figment of the British journalists imagination.

The photos were all over the Chinese media a long time ago together with blogging comments.
http://bbs.chinanews.com/thread-1073390-1-1.html

Either the journalist concerned is completely ignorant of Chinese affairs or a liar. Most likely both.

This just typifies the hatred that many in the West have towards China.

Whereas you will rarely find similar articles about the West in the Chinese press. Because the Chinese by and large mind their own business and do not concern themselves in how the English run England, or the Nigerians Nigeria, or the Saudis Saudi Arabia.

That is perhaps the big difference between the West and China today.

December 15, 2011 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

The Telegraph can be relied upon to be “biased”, sure (although complaining about “media bias” in and of itself is pretty meaningless, but be that as it may…), but that still doesn’t explain how they’re being biased when it comes to this series of articles, or how Moore is being unreliable in the information he is conveying about the current Wukan situation (although I understand he’s actually recently left the village). You’re still taking gross over-generalizations and prejudice and applying it onto this specific reporter in this specific incidence without any legitimate basis for doing so.

And your “therefore” statement is flawed because the premise upon which it is based is flawed, as explained above.

The analogy to the “1001 US news outlets” is not to say that their opinions converge or diverge. In fact, that is irrelevant here. We’re talking about reporting on the incidents taking place in Wukan. It is a reporting of facts, not a dissemination of opinion. If a village is surrounded by US cops in the US, there would be 1001 US news agencies reporting on it, such that getting information from xinhua in such a scenario would indeed be absurd. The point is that right now, there is no one else reporting on the facts in Wukan, and the CCP is actively eliminating social media feeds as well. So like it or not, Moore was the only game in town. If you’re going to disparage his reporting, then tell us where he has misspoken factually. To simply say the Telegraph cannot be trusted is beyond lame.

It appears in your example that the Daily Mail reporter made a factual mistake. Do you know he/she was “lying”? Is every mistake a “lie”? The journalist was mistaken about the accessibility of the photos in question. That doesn’t mean he/she is “completely ignorant of Chinese affairs or a liar” or both. It seems you have a very quick tendency to over-generalize beyond what the evidence might support.

And how is any of this typical of “hatred” towards China? Are you another one of these types that like to rage against “western media” and who jumps to conclusions about western media malfeasance at every turn? And that everyone has a hate on for China?

And how did this become a comparison of western and Chinese press anyway? This thread is about what is happening in Wukan. I notice through all of this that you’ve said very little about Wukan, and of the specifics of Moore’s articles on the subject. Why is that?

December 15, 2011 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Perhaps more so.

You have provided no evidence to show the Telegraph is as or more biased than Xinhua. Sure, MAYBE it is. But maybe you’re a 50center.

Not all media is the same. You can’t quote the Daily Mail as a reason to doubt the Telegraph, because it’s a completely different publication and more a tabloid than a broadsheet.

Whereas you will rarely find similar articles about the West in the Chinese press

Probably because there’s nothing sexy to report on here most of the time. Whereas when the riots kicked off, the Chinese media was happy to portray it as the end of the world when it wasn’t. So I guess China hates the UK, right?

Just stop ducking the issue. The reason the Chinese media isn’t reporting on this is because the CCP has no way to deal with this matter in the public eye. There is no reason to doubt the Telegraph on this one, apart from the “evil foreigners want to ruin China’s reputation” argument.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Anyway, back to the topic…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8957681/Chinese-government-vows-to-hunt-down-rebel-village-leaders.html

Latest entry I could find by Moore. It also appears he is giving more timely updates on his Google + feed.

The part I want to learn more about is with regards to the land deal that is now “temporarily frozen”. Apparently it will not proceed without a majority of villagers signing on. However, as the authorities on the one hand cut off the village from supplies of food, they are reportedly offering food for those who sign on for proceeding with the land deal. Don’t know if that is true, or verified. But if it is, it would be priceless. Villagers protest land deal, and lose food supplies as an indirect result. In order to get food, they need to agree to the land deal that they were protesting against to begin with. How’s that for coming full circle. And how nice of the authorities to not use any duress to try to extract those signatures from the villagers. Nice.

December 15, 2011 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

I notice through all of this that you’ve said very little about Wukan, and of the specifics of Moore’s articles on the subject. Why is that?

Simply because I cannot be bothered with articles on China written by Western journalists. Would Americans take seriously the opinion of some obscure Chinese journalist on the Waco siege of 1993? Of course not.

By the way addressing Richard’s “I know, we do this sort of thing — and much worse — in America every day.” But it did happen in Waco Texas. Only a lot worse.

Imagine something analogous in China – perhaps a bunch of Falun Gong adherents lock themselves into some compound in say Guangzhou, are besieged by central government troops and police, with a resulting near 80 deaths, including 20 or so children burned alive in an ensuing fire.

Imagine the meal the Western press would make out of something like that. Come on be honest now. If such a thing happened, how do you think the Western press would try to portray it?

December 15, 2011 @ 6:10 pm | Comment

And how nice of the authorities to not use any duress to try to extract those signatures from the villagers.

Indeed, SKC. If correct it would be a horrible way to resolve the situation – lose your land or die of starvation.

December 15, 2011 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

To CPGBML:
if you cannot be bothered with articles about China written by western journalists, that is entirely your problem. It doesn’t make those articles unreliable, and it doesn’t make the content of those articles untrue. So far, all you’ve made clear is that you let your prejudices be your guide.

Ah, Waco. Kinda waiting for that to be brought up. Would Americans have cared about “opinions” expressed by Chinese journalists at the time? Maybe, maybe not. But there were plenty of American opinions abound. Unlike in Wukan, where any Chinese news reporting on the matter is of the highly propagandized government-dictated variety. Also, “opinions” is one thing; but if Chinese journalists had “facts” about Waco to offer to the discussion, there is no reason why AMericans would disregard that out of hand…which is precisely what you are doing with Moore’s reporting, without any legitimate basis. If there was open and unfettered Chinese reporting of the incidents in Wukan (now, whether open and unfettered CHinese reporting is even physically possible is another story, but I digress…), and you chose to put more weight on those than on Moore, that could be defensible. But your current position certainly isn’t.

If a Waco equivalent happened to Falun Gong, it would be big news in the US, I suspect. But it hasn’t. So why worry about hypotheticals, when Wukan is actually happening, and is happening right now? Time for you to drop the usual “western media” nonsense, and get back on topic.

December 16, 2011 @ 1:56 am | Comment

“The US may have done horrible things in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were publicly aired, we all know about them, the government could not stop the media from telling us about them, and those raising hell were not sent to black jails.”

Bradley Manning anyone?

And in regards to, “We all know about them,” we only know some information like the snuff video of a reporter and others by a U.S. helicopter because allegedly Manning leaked the video. Also, we don’t know what we don’t know. Undoubtedly there were atrocities committed that we don’t know about.

Regarding the larger point about comparisons, I lived in China for six years and when I first got there I was so convinced that they were so much more authoritarian than America. After watching how police treat people in America, warrantless wiretapping, cameras on every corner, indefinite detention (including of america citizens) codified in law, continued selling of teargas to Egpt, continued arms sales to Bahrain until it became public, I would have to say any lines people attempt to draw are rather blurry.

December 16, 2011 @ 2:24 am | Comment

CPGBML: Imagine something analogous in China – perhaps a bunch of Falun Gong adherents lock themselves into some compound in say Guangzhou

Or a bunch of students demonstrating for democracy in, say, a large central square in a northern capital?

December 16, 2011 @ 2:42 am | Comment

I lived there too, and believe China is more authoritarian. You can find arguments that go either way. At least we all know the nitty-gritty details of Bradley Manning’s captivity, and I can donate money (and have) to his cause. There have been signs of creeping authoritarianism in the US but absolutely nothing to compare to China’s. Each and every one of us saw the pepper-spraying of students, many times, without censorship, and more and more of us joined the OWS cause. There have always been abuses of power, but we are still able to take the perpetrators to court. And Bradley Manning, unlike Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei, did commit a crime, though one I admire — so at least I understand his imprisonment even if I am against it and am appalled at his living conditions. In the US it is simply not possible to surround and starve entire villages, or to put protestors into black jails, or to kidnap six-year-old girls whose parents have protested against the government. In China my blog is blocked, here it’s not. In China workers can go unpaid and have no recourse, here that’s unheard of. In China, people who meet to discuss democracy can be imprisoned for many years. For proof, please see this post I wrote some years ago, and then come back and tell me which country has a higher level of authoritarianism. Remember, I am a staunch critic of the US government and its creeping authoritarianism. But let’s keep it in perspective. We can always find anecdotal example of fascism in America, but taken as a whole people enjoy significantly greater freedoms and protections here.

December 16, 2011 @ 3:01 am | Comment

“At least we all know the nitty-gritty details of Bradley Manning’s captivity, and I can donate money (and have) to his cause.”

have you seen how some of his supporters are harrassed and have their electronic devices searched and seized when they re-enter the united states, all without warrants, probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion? http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/05/house-suit/

some people who raise or give money to groups that the u.s. government claims are terrorists, end up charged with the crime of providing material support for a terrorist organization. you better be careful richard. who knows what list you are on.

wikileaks volunteers are having their twitter accounts subpoenaed, including a member of iceland’s parliament. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/01/birgitta-jonsdottir/

“In the US it is simply not possible to surround and starve entire villages, or to put protestors into black jails, or to kidnap six-year-old girls whose parents have protested against the government.”

regarding the black jails-see Jose Padilla. also, have you been following the passage of the defense authorization act which codifies indefinite detention without trial, without due process, including for american citizens?

“And Bradley Manning, unlike Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei, did commit a crime, though one I admire — so at least I understand his imprisonment even if I am against it and am appalled at his living conditions”

Bradley Manning, like all criminal defendants in this country, is innocent until proven guilty and we would all do well to remember that. oh wait, see my earlier comment about indefinite detention. i guess you’re right.

i would agree with you that the two countries are not at parity in terms of the level of authoritarianism, but i would say things are getting worse here in the u.s. by the day, and i don’t know where the end point is.

December 16, 2011 @ 3:27 am | Comment

To Marc,
what does Bradley Manning or anything you said in #46 and #49 have to do with what’s happening in Wukan?

December 16, 2011 @ 3:51 am | Comment

As I said, we can always find examples of abuse. Always. And as I said, we are seeing creeping authoritarianism. I wrote about Padilla as a disgrace, as I wrote about Manning. And Manning is presumed innocent, I agree, although he did admit downloading the files. No excuse whatsoever for his mistreatment. On the other hand, the NY Times and UK Guardian all published the material he stole without punishment. Imagine the same scenario in China, with People’s Daily printing the CCPs state secrets.

We can find deep faults in both (and in all) societies. The degree of personal freedom and ability to seek justice and speak out is nevertheless far higher in the US, despite the many, many aberration and injustices.

December 16, 2011 @ 3:52 am | Comment

This thread is again getting derailed by non sequitur and tu quoque. On the soccer/football field of logic, these are not yellow card offenses. They draw red cards.

But since somebody went there, was the Waco Branch Davidian standoff that badly misreported in the Chinese press in (pre-Internet) 1993? Or did the Falun Gong have a huge arsenal of weapons that we didn’t hear about?

December 16, 2011 @ 4:25 am | Comment

Richard
Imagine the same scenario in China

The guy would have had 10 Nobels mailed to his house, he’d be considered an International Hero, and America would be working on talks to shut down all trade with China.

December 16, 2011 @ 4:39 am | Comment

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8959080/Wukan-siege-First-crack-in-the-villagers-resolve.html

Latest Telegraph post by Malcolm Moore. Not an entirely new entry; the latter 1/2-2/3 is a repeat of the one I linked to in #42. But now he’s saying that the villagers agreeing to the “sign-for-food” deal are actually signing on a blank document. Anyone’s guess as to what that document will say when it gets trotted out later with villagers’ signatures on it.

December 16, 2011 @ 5:02 am | Comment

Whether or not China can be considered mroe or less ‘authoritarian’ than the US is unimportant.

China has her own path to development, and how things are run in China do not have to follow the way things are done in the US, anymore than the other way round.

When the US was in the early stages of industrial and economic development, did she constantly feel a need to compare herself with China and try and match her actions with those of China?

Of course not. That is why they continually invade other countries, interfere with other countries and subject the rest of the world to over a century of imperialist domination.

Perhaps China should say to the US —you stop invading other countries. You should match our record of peaceful development and non-interference and non-oppression of foreign peoples.

The suffering caused to the rest of the world by US imperialism is simply unmatched by any other power.

So what that the US provides some sort of ‘rights’ to their own people.

It is sort of like some ‘athenian’ democracy. Where a few enjoy a privileged lifestyle,some sort of civic ‘rights’, but this is all maintained by brutalising and enslaving most of the community (in this case the world community).

The likes of S K Cheung probably think Apartheid South Africa was a great place – because at least whites had the vote.

December 16, 2011 @ 5:35 am | Comment

Well, I see that CPGBML has retreated to the usual stand-by rants about the US. It is always curious to me how that can be perceived to have any relevance to a China blog, or to the situation in Wukan. But it doesn’t appear that CPGBML is all that interested in China, since he seems to like talk about the US above all else. There is certainly no shortage of types like him. Man, if that Philly Cheesesteak blog ever gets off the ground, it should have some pretty good readership right off the hop.

December 16, 2011 @ 5:47 am | Comment

I just tried to have a civil discourse over at Hideous Harmonies, and attempted to explain why Hitler and Nazism were the archetypes of evil. In knee-jerk response, they brought up the American Indians (the US is worse than Nazi Germany). No matter what you say to certain types of commenters like Kookie and pugster and Red Star, they can only respond with the stock answer, which will be about either the Native Americans or Iraq. CPGBML might be in the same boat

December 16, 2011 @ 6:23 am | Comment

I believe Allen Yu once said something to the effect that HH represents the views of a certain subset of Chinese-Americans, and if that’s what you want, that is what you will get from them. Obviously I don’t, so I don’t. I would only venture onto those places at your own peril, cuz they are nothing if not completely predictable.

December 16, 2011 @ 6:35 am | Comment

Just as a case in point, a little while ago I commented there:

For the record, Custer’s comments were logical and polite, and watching him get hounded for no particular reason is not very classy.

Raventhorn, always the intellectual, barks back,

Why do you “watch” people for no particular reason, Richard??!!

Strangest response I’ve ever seen.

December 16, 2011 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Ah yes, RV, I remember him well. For a guy who is apparently a lawyer practicing in the DC area, his grasp of the English language is tenuous at best. Juvenile remarks like the one you quoted seem to be his specialty. Instead of responding to the crux of your remark, he instead chooses to respond to the phrase “watching him” taken completely and idiotically out of context. It appears nothing has changed since his FM days, not that I would expect anything different.

December 16, 2011 @ 6:46 am | Comment

Why do I even bother? You should see the way they treated Custer in that thread, then delete his comments for “spamming,” as if he’d ever spam a thread. Charles Liu and pug never spam, of course. Please don’t let them know that this blog is funded by the NED.

December 16, 2011 @ 6:48 am | Comment

Richard
No matter what you say to certain types of commenters like Kookie and pugster and Red Star, they can only respond with the stock answer, which will be about either the Native Americans or Iraq.

The US isn’t worse than Nazi Germany. It’s up there with Stalinist Russia as the three most evil polities of all time, however.

And no, I don’t just bring up the Native Americans or Iraq, but also America’s support for Mubarak, Shah Reza Pahlavi, Papa Doc, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, the House of Saud, Mobutu.

Then there’s Jim Crow, slavery, Operation Wetback, the annexation of Texas, the ousting of Queen Liliuokalani, Agent Orange, the liquidation of leftists in South Korea, Operation Menu and UXO in Laos, the 3 million prisoners in America’s rape-pens (half of which are minorities locked up for trumped up charges).

Don’t forget the fact that the richest 1% own 41% of America’s assets, and the laundering of nearly a trillion dollars a year from the world’s poorest nations.

But hey, continue your characteristic smear and denial.

December 16, 2011 @ 7:14 am | Comment

Over there, you are dealing with the true believers. They are impervious to logic and reasoning. So I honestly don’t know why anyone would bother. Rather than actively comment there, I do know of people who simply lurk. They’re kind enough to send me copies of examples of people saying particularly and outlandishly stupid things above and beyond the usual expected level, and we all get a bit of a chuckle. I think that’s the best method for effective consumption of that site.

December 16, 2011 @ 7:18 am | Comment

I just tried to have a civil discourse over at Hideous Harmonies

They are only hideous if you expect too much from them. An open discussion, for example. When something starts with a “let’s-dialog” ambition, I’m almost sure that it can only go wrong. Dialog comes either naturally, or it will be clouded with bitterness and “disappointment” before you spell “harmony”. To me, harmony seems to be the result of something that comes naturally, or not at all – and only if you can stand disharmony, too. Just like happiness, you can’t have that all of the time.

December 16, 2011 @ 7:38 am | Comment

I think my last comment there (and the only one, I believe) was early this year, Cheung. Couldn’t resist the temptation to tease them with a CCP story about certification ceremony for living Buddhas there. But I guess the joke was lost on them.

December 16, 2011 @ 7:40 am | Comment

Wow, Kookie, talk about predictability.

December 16, 2011 @ 8:02 am | Comment

Let’s give CM credit where credit is due. He has more stock answers than Pugster. I suppose that is something.

But at some point, we should get back to the point of this thread…

December 16, 2011 @ 9:27 am | Comment

Richard,

I think implicit in any of these articles on an injustice that we quote is a sense of moral outrage at that injustice. But simply implying that moral outrage is not enough, because often it can lead to nonproductive discussions that quickly devolve into comparisons between China and America. Sorry if I offended you in any way, but I meant that statement as a bit of advice: if you want some commenters to contribute better comments, maybe it might be better to offer some policy recommendations with each of these articles that you post in the future?

SK,

First, I accept that today, the interests of the “connected class” (ex-govt officials, SOEs, developers, banks, MNCs) are overrepresented in China. I think the Chinese system is more flexible to the demands of the middle-class citizenry than you seem to argue. While, no doubt, we can both cite a litany of anecdotes to support both sides of that argument, the simple logic is that the Party itself, and the apparatchiks that execute policy, are overwhelmingly composed of middle-class citizens now. If you also accept, then, that the ideological bonds within the Party are not as strong as they once were, it can be safe to say that most of the “policy class” of China will be drawing from their day-to-day experiences to make governing decisions, and their day-to-day experiences (and aspirations) will mirror those of the other professionals in the middle class.

The real danger here is that the middle class within China is still a minority, and the lower classes lose faith within the Party to represent their interests. This lack of faith is analogous to a drought in a grass field–the less moisture, or faith, there is, the more likely the field is to burn, or revolt. We see this happening in Wukan today.

The primary, long-term task of China’s leadership will be how to create neutral arbitration platforms (not just a governing body–a set of institutions, laws, and social customs) between interest groups. The secondary, more immediate task will be to rebalance the Party’s internal promotion incentives to make cadres more balanced in representing the whole set of socioeconomic interests.

China has a wonderful problem, really–Chinese society is finally developing to the point where multiple interest groups are forming and jostling to get their voices heard, and foreigners are paying attention. Far from fearing this as external interference, Chinese people should be proud that 1) China has advanced to where its citizens have things to argue over and are educated enough to organize themselves to get it and 2)China has gotten big enough such that the rest of the world is affected by what goes on domestically and actually wants to offer (somewhat biased) advice. By responding proactively to criticism while ensuring all interest groups are fundamentally aligned with the concept of Chinese nationhood and progress, China’s leadership can take the country to a better future.

December 16, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

The fact is the comparisons are always brought up by the likes of Richard and SK. About how great the US is compared to China. Just go through their previous posts.

China should apparently always look to the US and emulate the US.

Well then, why does the US not emulate China and at the very least elect leaders who are not mass murderers, leaders who think that murdering 1 million children is fine, as long as it is in US foreign policy interests:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4

December 16, 2011 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

The US and the West are not paragons of virtue.

They built their wealth upon the enslavement and exploitation of non-white peoples.

Their opinions should mean absolutely nothing to the Chinese.

Just as one who commits a driving misdemeanour would not expect to be lectured by a paedophile or serial murderer.

December 16, 2011 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

The fact is the comparisons are always brought up by the likes of Richard and SK. About how great the US is compared to China.

I suggest that you just point some of them out, CPGBML – for everyone’s convenience. Maybe it is just how you feel about China?

Oh, and Hermit and Net Nanny send you their revolutionary greetings, too.

December 16, 2011 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

I suggest that you just point some of them out……

#1, 3, 4, 12, 14, 24, 26, 28 etc etc expecially blog 48 (who is more ‘authoritarian’ —I bet some Iraqis find the US far more ‘authoritarian’ than China).

It is so predictable from Richard and his Chinese minions such as S K Cheung – the US can murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Aghani people, experiment on black people with syphillis (Tuskegee ended only 1972), murder 2 million Vietnamese —but hey that’s OK coz Richard “blogged like hell about it”.

Great. I see Richard’s blogs are really serving to restrain the US imperialist beast. Oh —perhaps not. He is part of that beast himself.

December 16, 2011 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

I never said the US was “great compared to China” and if you misquote me and call me “part of the beast” you won’t be here long. Someone up above at #46 raised the issue of which of the two countries was more authoritarian and I argued the US is overflowing with abuse and “creeping authoritarianism” and that I had, yes, “blogged like hell” about these injustices over the years, and even over the past several months and weeks. And I listed the reasons why still, China’s government is more authoritarian despite the anecdotes that I raised myself showing America’s deep flaws. To state that I said America is “great” compared to China is highly misleading. So be very careful attributing things people to say. You started off on a decent enough start but you’re drifting into troll territory.

Great. I see Richard’s blogs are really serving to restrain the US imperialist beast. Oh —perhaps not. He is part of that beast himself.

Yeah, you need to be more careful.

t_co, thanks for the free advice. Some of your comment, with all due respect, sounds like a speech you hear on CCTV: “The primary, long-term task of China’s leadership will be how to create neutral arbitration platforms (not just a governing body–a set of institutions, laws, and social customs) between interest groups. The secondary, more immediate task will be to rebalance the Party’s internal promotion incentives to make cadres more balanced in representing the whole set of socioeconomic interests…By responding proactively to criticism while ensuring all interest groups are fundamentally aligned with the concept of Chinese nationhood and progress, China’s leadership can take the country to a better future.”

Sounds good in theory.

December 17, 2011 @ 12:10 am | Comment

who is more ‘authoritarian’ —I bet some Iraqis find the US far more ‘authoritarian’ than China

I think that if anything, Richard is making China’s political system look better than what it is, by referring to a totalitarian system as only authoritarian government. Besides, #1 was neither written by him, nor by Cheung; #3 was a referral to a certain cookie monster, rather than to China, and – I’m stopping here – Richard certainly has a point in that if the Iraqi government had been as accountable to its people as the U.S. government still is to the Americans, Saddam Hussein probably wouldn’t have attacked Iran, Kuwait, nor Kurdish citizens of his own country.

Yes, the US administrations are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands – but when looking at how highly motivated even Chinese fishermen are these days, I’m sure China won’t be second to America, once its peaceful rise is accomplished.

And tell you what – to many Vietnamese, the biggest headache today isn’t that big murderous Uncle Sam – it’s China.

December 17, 2011 @ 1:06 am | Comment

Btw, I understand that Cheung is American, not Chinese – but I may be wrong. That you refer to him as a minion has nothing to do with him – but it may have a lot to do with your own personal relationships. In a free world, people happen to agree or to disagree, without being either someone’s minion, nor someone’s enemy.

December 17, 2011 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Thanks for the reply Richard. Just because it sounds like the official Chinese viewpoint does not automatically disqualify its validity. You’ve spent more time on the ground in China than I have. What makes you doubt that what I stated will happen?

December 17, 2011 @ 2:50 am | Comment

t_co, I never disqualified the validity of your comment. It just sounds like bureaucratese. It sounds wonderful on paper. I’d love to see it all happen. But it would be like me saying, “The most important thing for the Republican Party to do would be to recognize the inherent truth that slashing spending during a deep recession will only make it worse. Secondarily, the Republicans must embrace Obama as a friend and work with him diligently to compromise and give at least 50 percent so government can function effectively and efficiently.” It sounds great. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the reality on the ground. I mean, it would be great if China introduced rule of law next week, but I’m not going to suggest it in a comment because I know how divorced the suggestion would be from reality.

December 17, 2011 @ 2:59 am | Comment

justrecently
to many Vietnamese, the biggest headache today

Probably because the ones who had a problem with “Uncle Sam” died by the millions. Vietnam only has a “headache” with China because they want to steal Chinese territory (also claimed by Taiwan), even though Ho Chi Minh, a great hero of Vietnam, did not see the islands as part of Vietnam.

December 17, 2011 @ 3:03 am | Comment

You don’t need to go to United States since land seizures is uncommon since they already are ecomomically developed.

Here something the British media like the BBC/Telegraph is refusing to say anything:

British government funds land seizures without consent and compensation that is going to be used by South Korea steel firm, POSCO, in Orissa (new state of India): http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3659

December 17, 2011 @ 5:35 am | Comment

To CPGBML 69/70/72:
you are full of it up to your eyeballs. Rather than listing random comment numbers, why not have the courage and conviction to actually indicate where I have apparently “brought up…comparisons” “About how great the US is compared to China”. Indeed, please go through previous posts, and provide some specific citations of where I’ve done those things. This is a specific challenge. Quoting comment numbers is beyond lame. Take your sweet time. I’ll wait…

You are correct that American opinions need not mean anything to Chinese people. But certainly Chinese opinion should mean something to Chinese people, so one wonders why the CCP system as currently constituted doesn’t take them into account. You’re gonna have to explain that one. Good luck.

Oh, and I see you’ve simply given up all hope of talking about Wukan, or in fact about anything to do with CHina at all. Like I’ve said many times before, you people are just so darn predictable.

December 17, 2011 @ 6:56 am | Comment

To t-co:
I agree, the Chinese system may be more flexible than I give it credit for. But it’s probably also not as flexible as it could be, or more importantly, not as flexible as Chinese people would want it to be.

If you had to have authoritarianism, it probably is preferable to have it by committee rather than the strong-man/nepotism style. But I don’t know if it makes much difference that those who wield power have middle-class backgrounds. I don’t think you can assume those with an upbringing of middle-class sensibilities will automatically retain those sensibilities once they’re in a position of power. You know what they say about absolute power.

I don’t disagree with you about some of the things the Chinese government needs to do. My question, as usual, is whether the Chinese government, as currently constituted, is fundamentally capable of doing them.

December 17, 2011 @ 7:09 am | Comment

SKC, we have a major-league troll here, coming on sounding moderately sane and then, step by step, getting crazier and crazier. As I’ve said before, I’ve been running this blog for nine years now and can pretty much tell when someone is bad news.

Jason, there are land seizures in the US, too. But there is no surrounding of villages and choking off people’s food supplies and terrorizing the citizens. At least none that I know of. In fact, people whose homes are in the way of a public works project, at least in the US, often make out quite handsomely.

December 17, 2011 @ 7:52 am | Comment

To Jason,

fascinating comparison. Now, what justifies the comparison? Did somebody somewhere say that what’s happening in Wukan only happens in China? If not, then why bring up a comparison? Does the Indian example change what’s happening in Wukan? If not, then where is the relevance?

Sounds like some people in that new Indian state might have a legitimate grievance. Does that make the Chinese villagers in question any more or less aggrieved? Now, back to the topic, what about the people in Wukan? Are you OK with authorities laying siege to the villagers and depriving them of supplies of food and water? I don’t think any comparisons are necessary when addressing those questions.

To Richard,
I am a relative newbie in these parts, but yes, you seem to have captured the natural evolution of that subset of individual.

December 17, 2011 @ 8:01 am | Comment

“Are you OK with authorities laying siege to the villagers and depriving them of supplies of food and water?”

That was the least of it. They use a thug kidnap gang working with the local para-police force to snatch the village reps from a resturaunt, one of whom was later beaten to death.

Just last week Beijing announced a strike hard campaign again gangs working from unlicenced vehicles as ‘retrievers’ for black jails. Obviously, they have been redeployed.

If you look at Malcolm Moore’s recent tweets, I think you will see a photo of one of these gangs operating around Wukan.

Why not respond to these hard core facts about the realities of conflict problem- solving in China today.

Wukan is a glimpse of the future – maybe this year, maybe in 10 years time- and china will repeat its history. The immediate neighbours and the West will jeer while the country consumes itself, yet again.

December 17, 2011 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8960078/Wukan-siege-the-fallen-villager.html

Seems like armed thugs are running amok. Rule of law seems but a dream. Reality is a little less gentile.

December 17, 2011 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

SK,

The power of the Party is not absolute; not even remotely so. The power is absolute relative to the farmers and working class in China, but to the middle class and those who work the system, not so much; and finally, to those in charge or those who have the real connections, the Party is simply a source of power rather than a check on behavior. Hence, I don’t think anyone who enters into the party completely abandons their checks on behavior; government abuses usually pop up because the jerks causing these things were already jerks before they joined the Party; it was only that their callous natures were unintentionally rewarded by the current institutional set-up by promotion.

SK and Richard,

We seem to arrive, then at a fundamental question: is the current Chinese government capable of peacefully yet substantially reforming itself? Richard, you say that this is divorced from reality; what have you seen that makes you believe this? (I have no clue how to answer this question–sincerely curious.)

December 17, 2011 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

t_co, there is crime everywhere, which governments can’t stop 100% of the time. However, the problem here is that the man in question was seized by the authorities. It wasn’t a criminal gang who grabbed him. So it’s more that the CCP does not control over itself.

Which is why the CCP’s monopoly on power has to be broken. Even if the central authorities could be trusted to be whiter than white and against the ill treatment of its citizens under any circumstances (clearly it is not given it tolerates and takes part in the repression of its own people), it will never be able to micromanage what happens in the provinces.

December 17, 2011 @ 6:11 pm | Comment

t_co, I simply believe that while the goals you listed sound great, there is no sign of them happening. And this strikes me a wholly simplistic:

By responding proactively to criticism while ensuring all interest groups are fundamentally aligned with the concept of Chinese nationhood and progress, China’s leadership can take the country to a better future.

Responding proactively to criticism? Sometimes, definitely. But their more common response is digging in their heels and doubling down, increasing, not loosening, censorship, putting critics in jail and glossing over the truth with propaganda. Read about what they’re doing in Wukan. Censorship under Hu has gotten much worse, not better. I think the CCP can and will reform itself over many years, and am not sure I agree with Raj that the CCP’s monopoly on power “must be broken” because for now I don’t think it can be broken. But your contention that I just snipped above sounds, with all due respect, like one of those rosy platitudes Shaun Rein likes to write about how the party leadership will competently navigate the country through its crises and bring about peace, prosperity and reform. Maybe someday, but it ignores the cruel truth on the ground for many, many Chinese people, most of whom are not middle class and many of whom are subject to suppression. China is reforming, but two friends of mine in the past four years got knocks on their door, and a black hood was put over their heads and they were taken to secret jails (most likely cheap, guarded hotels). So yeah, saying they’ll keep reforming and all will be well sounds great. But it’s way too early to predict their victory in the wake of social unrest, a fragile economy, environmental catastrophes and rampant corruption. I want to believe they can accomplish what you say, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon, if ever.

December 18, 2011 @ 12:39 am | Comment

To t-co:
The Party is the system, and vice versa, so I don’t know how one could separate the power of the party and the power of the system. One and/or the other has absolute power, and at the end of the day, they are part and parcel of the same thing.

As you also say, the Party (and I would submit, the system) is a source of power rather than a check on behaviour. So you are really counting on the continued good graces of the people in power to not abuse it. But if they do (especially at the local level like in Linyi and now in Wukan), there is no systematic means of rectifying it. Instead of rule of law, you get rule by law, courtesy of armed thugs. I’m not sure that’s going to change without a fundamental change to the system.

I don’t have an answer to your question. I would observe, however, that if anything things have been back-sliding under Hu Jintao. The changes required would take it (the Party and the system) completely away from “authoritarianism” as I would understand it. I don’t know if that is within the capacity of the CCP.

December 18, 2011 @ 4:48 am | Comment

and am not sure I agree with Raj that the CCP’s monopoly on power “must be broken” because for now I don’t think it can be broken

Richard, for clarity I was not calling for instant change. I was referring to the fact that UNTIL the CCP’s monopoly of power is broken (or at least weakened), the sorts of injustices seen in Wukan will continue.

December 19, 2011 @ 2:07 am | Comment

Heard on the Beeb that Cantonese is going to be ousted from prime time TV slots in Guangdong. Wonder how well that’ll go down….

December 19, 2011 @ 8:35 am | Comment

by the way, gg Kim Jong-Il. good fucking riddance

December 19, 2011 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

See my new post, and use it as an open thread. I’m shutting this one.

December 20, 2011 @ 12:42 am | Comment

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