New thread, links, etc.

Please feel free to talk about anything, as long as you’re nice.

Also, please listen to this new piece on National Public Radio’s Marketplace. It’s about sex shops in China, and I’m interviewed briefly. An amazing subject; sex shops there are a world of difference from those in the West.

There’s also a lengthy new article by James Fallows on the possibility of more companies, especially tech start-ups, choosing to manufacture their goods in the US, not only in China. An important new trend?

Finally, there’s a disturbing new article on the surging AIDS epidemic in China. Some heartbreaking stories. (It’s World AIDS Day today.)

And now you can continue the never-ending debate on China’s system vs. America’s, if you don’t think you’ve yet said it all.

______________

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: 292 Comments

If it’s so good, why did you leave, really?

How do you even know he’s Chinese?

December 10, 2012 @ 6:59 am | Comment

To Riverer,
“To me China is a country focused on “progressing” at any cost,which means the wellbeing of the people being often ignored to ensure speedy developments for industry and economy…”
—but wait a sec. Shouldn’t you let the people of that country decide if ‘progress at any cost’ is still the preferred route? Why would you prescribe that from afar? Granted, you’ve acknowledged the “to me” part. Aren’t you curious what it would be “to other Chinese people”?
And why does political well-being, freedom of speech, information access, and rule of law have to be sacrificed at the altar of this “progress”?

To me, those sacrifices are for the sole purpose of keeping the CCP in power, and contribute nothing to the economic progress that Chinese people presumably seek.

To 244:
economically, sure, you can do all those things. And guess what? You don’t need the CCP for any of them.

And China needs to combat corruption in her own country (and within the CCP). Now, would you want the CCP to police herself? Gee, I don’t know…would you want the fox to guard the hen house?

And that’s my point all along. China can continue doing what she does, and even embark on some of those improvements you listed, without all those nasty CCP accoutrements.

To 245:
“I repeat that because it” must pay well. Differentiating correlation from causation probably doesn’t.

December 10, 2012 @ 7:08 am | Comment

To T-co,
all we know is that he posts from California, claims to have been in HK circa 1997, and seems to be able to read some traditional Chinese (though not all that well).

Anyway, I know it’s old news, but as you say, enough with the character assassination game that CCP apologists like to play (since they can’t seem to do anything else). Let’s talk about the ideas of the man instead:

“1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution, rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China’s democratization. The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party.”

So Jason’s and zookeepers, here is your chance to shine…or to at least show us that the space between your ears does in fact contain particulate matter, however underdeveloped it may be. Tell us what’s wrong with #1. There are 19 of them, and tis the season so we’ll do this like an advent calendar, if Richard will allow it.

December 10, 2012 @ 7:18 am | Comment

@ riverer 243

That all sounds great on paper until you’re the one whose family has been evicted and cousin beaten into a coma for trying to stop them because they weren’t giving jack all for compensation.

Or your dad gets some job related cancer from his lifetime of work at the chemical factory and they have to spend their life savings and sell their house to pay for the treatment.

Or your cousin, after a long deliberating process, makes it into a government job, only to become corrupt, arrogant and take on three mistresses. This destroys their marriage and their child now lives between her grandparents and whatever sleazy guy’s place that she’s now fucking from school.

Or your uncle dies after getting electrocuted in the boat manufacturing company he worked in, and partly owned. The company (other owners have govt. connections) blamed him, even though there are 3 different stories and none of them match the evidence. His family got next to no compensation.

Or your sister marries a rich business man 20 years her senior (his second marriage), only to find out after 2 years he has 3 mistresses and now they barely talk, have no kids (he didn’t want any as he has 2 kids from his first marriage), sleep in different beds and she is desperately lonely and depressed. But she has money.

Or your aunt and her entire family are killed after a landslide caused by mining and deforestation of the mountains behind their village.

Or your husband gets hit by a car while riding his electric scooter. The driver drove off and all witnesses said nothing because it had government plates. He is now brain damaged.

All these things have happened to my colleagues in China over 5 years. If this is an achievement then I would hate to see the failure.

This isn’t development. These are people. Why are Chinese people worth less than other country’s people? People that say “these are the sacrifices of blah blah blah..?” are essentially saying, Chinese lives are worth less than other country’s.

Yes, many countries made mistakes in their past development but that is no reason to follow in their mistakes. If anything, it’s every reason not to. Japan didn’t. South Korea didn’t. Singapore didn’t. There is no excuse to sacrifice human rights and lives in the ruse of development. If your economic model and government is so great, then these things should not still be happening.

And why are people always putting America up as a straw man? Damn, give that fella a rest.

Look at South Korea. Eastern. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Australia. Asian/Australasian. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Germany. European. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Chile. Latin American. Democratic. Successful.
Austria. Norway. Iceland. Switzerland. Denmark. Canada. France. New Zealand.

Most of these country’s have functioned successfully with democracy for over 100 years now.

Each country is it’s own entity and each should be judged on it’s own merit. Democracy has more than one form and it’s fairly successful in many cases. Show me a similar track record for communism and I’ll give it the time of day.

This mythical country called “the west” is one of the worst generalizations I’ve ever heard. From my experience, it’s a convenient political creation so some country’s can conveniently discount all achievements of democracy and still manage to pass it all off as ‘America’. Lame. That term is for people that don’t want to think too hard. I keep hearing, south park’s Matt Damon voice when I read “the west”.

Finally, what cracks me up, is the CCP is constantly bringing up how “the west” (in Matt Damon voice) raped China in the past and that’s why it’s in it’s current state today e.g. opium wars (cue violin). I don’t know if anyone noticed but America dropped a NUCLEAR BOMB on Japan. Oh, sorry. Dropped 2 NUCLEAR BOMBS on Japan. Plus hundreds of thousands of carpet bombs. Japanese seem to have gotten over it and developed quite well. Germany too I might well add. They don’t cling to this victim complex like dag of poo on your ass hairs. Seriously. It was history. Grow up and move on. It just shows weakness.

A country will never be strong if it keeps blaming it’s woes on what happened sixty years ago. China has had devastating wars all through it’s history. It recovered and moved on.

December 10, 2012 @ 7:39 am | Comment

To S. K. Cheung
Like I have said repeatedly before I have done my part of what it would be “to other Chinese people”, with first hand experiences no less (since I am already familiar with media materials). Though obiviously the results of my findings is quite different from what I have expected; A few smiled and said nothing, others complain a lot but in the end still acknowledge that CCP rule is better choice for the whole nation than any other options available(including revolution), and of course those who believe CCP is the best thing ever (yep those people do exist). Given the fact that I was only able to communicate using english (and my english is far less than perfect) I did get the impression that most chinese I met are not ready to go against CCP (to say the least). It was unfortunate that I wasnt able to visit HongKong since people there would probably have a very different opinions compared with the mainland.

December 10, 2012 @ 8:02 am | Comment

To curl of the burl
I believe I know how successful Germany is better than most here, and its not necessary to tell me those “truths” about China since I was told almost nothing else about China my entire life so far. I still believe many of those indeed are real even after my time in China, but there is much more about China than what we have been told.

December 10, 2012 @ 8:16 am | Comment

Look at South Korea. Eastern. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Australia. Asian/Australasian. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Germany. European. Democratic. Successful.
Look at Chile. Latin American. Democratic. Successful.
Austria. Norway. Iceland. Switzerland. Denmark. Canada. France. New Zealand.
Most of these country’s have functioned successfully with democracy for over 100 years now.

You might want to do some reading on that claim. South Korea democratized after 1988. Hitler is, most definitely, not 100 years in the past. Chile had its elected president deposed in a CIA coup in 1973, replaced with Pinochet, and didn’t fully return to democracy until after the Cold War. Austria didn’t have democracy until after WW2. France’s current democratic system emerged out of a coup d’etat by ex-General Charles De Gaulle in 1958.

How about nations who adopted democracy while their per capita GDP was under the contemporary global average?

India. Nigeria. Liberia. Algeria. Rwanda. Are these governments successful, as defined by whether their governments created outsized benefits above and beyond any other form of government? Not by a long shot, even if we dropped the standards of “good governance” down to just keeping people from dismembering each other over religious and ethnic differences. I could go on listing countries that end with the word ‘a’ but I would just be repeating myself.

The track record of democracy is just like that of other forms of government: decidedly mixed and wholly dependent on local conditions.

But I do agree–straw men are not useful at all, and it is not useful at all for China to unfairly pillory democracy or unduly praise authoritarianism, or vice versa.

December 10, 2012 @ 8:56 am | Comment

“How do you even know he’s Chinese?”
I don’t, any more than I know you are. But it was his (or her) admission and for that I have to accept it until told otherwise. I know the internet is full of people that are not what they claim to be. I just play along 🙂

Regarding Germany, I recall reading some historical stuff – you know, people saying democracy can never work in Germany as they’ve never had it and the Germans need a strong leader, authoritarianism being part of the German psyche, etc, etc. Sort of like this http://colley.co.uk/garethjones/german_articles/under_hitler_2.htm

December 10, 2012 @ 9:08 am | Comment

@—and in the meantime, let’s just throw people with ideas in jail, and put their wives under house arrest without charge. Nice system. Too bad you’re not living under it.

I’ll give you that. The heavy handed approach makes Liu a martyr rather than a neo-con.

December 10, 2012 @ 9:10 am | Comment

“The track record of democracy is just like that of other forms of government: decidedly mixed and wholly dependent on local conditions.”
Is that due to the system or due to the governing person/people? Elections by themselves do not a democracy make – China has elections, after all.
And, of course, you then have to define democracy. I hear “western democracy” bandied about like it’s a monolithic thing. It isn’t – there’s different democratic systems – Britain has a different system to New Zealand which in turn is different to that from the US. You pick the system that works for you.

“You might want to do some reading on that claim. South Korea democratized after 1988. Hitler is, most definitely, not 100 years in the past. Chile had its elected president deposed in a CIA coup in 1973, replaced with Pinochet, and didn’t fully return to democracy until after the Cold War. Austria didn’t have democracy until after WW2. France’s current democratic system emerged out of a coup d’etat by ex-General Charles De Gaulle in 1958.”

Yeah, but they’re still successful. And the success and quality of life has really increased since adoption of various forms of democratic choice. Thing is, as SKC said, they are as successful as they are heteroethnic.

December 10, 2012 @ 9:35 am | Comment

Is that due to the system or due to the governing person/people? Elections by themselves do not a democracy make – China has elections, after all.
And, of course, you then have to define democracy. I hear “western democracy” bandied about like it’s a monolithic thing. It isn’t – there’s different democratic systems – Britain has a different system to New Zealand which in turn is different to that from the US. You pick the system that works for you.

It’s not due to anything. My entire point was that democracy is a fundamentally neutral “thing”, just as much as one-Party rule or theocracy is a fundamentally neutral “thing”.

Of course we can attach so many qualifiers to the way you define democracy that it becomes essentially a perfect form of government. People have been using that to argue ideology since the French Revolution, but Mike, I don’t think that would be a very productive discussion.

December 10, 2012 @ 9:51 am | Comment

Trouble is, you can’t have a perfect form of government, just one that’s better than the others. As you say, people are still debating it, but whichever way people follow it AND if it is implemented as it should be (not usurped or used as “a streetcar that you ride to your destination, then get off”).

Damn, have to leave. Some bloody idiot has turned a truck over on the motorway – obviously the way I go home. Need to pick up daughters so best set off now and try and find a detour. Democracy may be the best form of governance but it still doesn’t protect us citizens from fuckwit drivers….

December 10, 2012 @ 10:07 am | Comment

Apologies for comment above sounding truncated – t’was the truck incident and wifely voice via telephone asking me what we can do. I think you get the gist of what i was saying before my mind was taken elsewhere… 😉

December 10, 2012 @ 10:08 am | Comment

Yeah, but they’re still successful.

1) define success
2) is it due to democracy?

And the success and quality of life has really increased since adoption of various forms of democratic choice.

First, Korea’s highest economic growth rates came under dictator Park Chung Hee who didn’t even .

Second, that might be the case for the cherry-picked examples you cited, but to claim that their transitions somehow imply China should learn from that is just as fallacious as claiming that Russia, India, and Nigeria’s botched democracies are warnings against a democratic transition.

Thing is, as SKC said, they are as successful as they are heteroethnic.

And every unsuccessful example comes from a different ethnicity as well.

December 10, 2012 @ 10:36 am | Comment

“1) define success
2) is it due to democracy?
And the success and quality of life has really increased since adoption of various forms of democratic choice.
First, Korea’s highest economic growth rates came under dictator Park Chung Hee who didn’t even .
Second, that might be the case for the cherry-picked examples you cited, but to claim that their transitions somehow imply China should learn from that is just as fallacious as claiming that Russia, India, and Nigeria’s botched democracies are warnings against a democratic transition.
Thing is, as SKC said, they are as successful as they are heteroethnic.
And every unsuccessful example comes from a different ethnicity as well.”

Firstly I don’t think democracy is necessary, especially when developing as uneducated people don’t always make the best voters but I think once a countries GDP and infrastructure gets to a certain point, things like free media, human rights and environmental accountability would be.

I just think not all democracies are the same and one should be able to see the difference.

Also, having high GDP when South Korea was at that stage of development was fairly uniform with every other developing country e.g. Brazil, Russia, Japan, Taiwan.

But making that transition to a developed country is where top governance is necessary. It comes down to economics, not politics. If the party and their SOEs that made squillions off the current economic model can shift off that model to the money into the hands of ordinary people then great.

Singapore did it with a one party state. Good on em. They did what was in the best interests of the people without sacrificing human rights.

Taiwan, Japan and south korea did it with democracy.

I think it comes down to good governance and corruption control.

I think Deng Xiao Ping put it best when he said “It doesn’t matter if it’s a black cat or a white cat, as long as you can eat it.”

Maybe I got that wrong.

December 10, 2012 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

To riverer,
I don’t question your experiences in polling Chinese people you know or have come across. However, that’s anecdotal. I’m referring to something more systematic, or at least scientifically rigorous. Of course, the PEW stuff ain’t it.

December 10, 2012 @ 2:28 pm | Comment

“We should talk about the idea–not the man.”

Good.

“Given that they already are willing to sacrifice their own interests for their ideas, it is what they would have wanted.”

Errr . . . I’m pretty sure that none of those people actually wanted to end up in jail. Unless you’re trying to imply that their crazy or that they purposefully brought it on themselves. But then we’re not talking about the man any more, right?

“One thing I find strange is how when Western observers talk about dissent in authoritarian political regimes, they always focus on the man first.”

Dictatorships are almost always signatories of treaties which commit them to very basic standards of human rights, including freedom of speech, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. No-one will hold the Chinese government to this commitment except the PRC’s co-signatories.

The PRC government did not respond to Charter 08 by criticising its content, largely because Charter 08’s content largely represents things the CCP has said that it is in favour of at one time or another and which anyway would be fairly appealing to most people in the PRC. Instead they went to work on the authors and signatories, threatening them into silence, dirtying their reputations, and imprisoning one of the primary authors on a bullshit charge of ‘subversion’.

Looked at like this, it’s clear why we end up talking about Liu Xiaobo and not Charter 08.

“My call to Western scholars and pundits is this: if you want to talk China, impress us with your ideas and your results.”

Why should ‘western’ scholars do this instead of trying to get better treatment for their counterparts within China who try to do this? The problem is not that the case for democracy has not been made. The problem is what happens to those that make it.

December 10, 2012 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

In fact, the more I look at this, the more it looks like yet another conscience-salving, blame-the-victim bromide for soft CCP apologists of a type very familiar, on a par with classics such as (paraphrasing from the HH canon):

“Dissidents who’ve spent decades in prison or in exile need to be more in touch with the people”

“Dissidents should avoid foreign links and maybe they wouldn’t get arrested – oh wait, they’ll get arrested anyway? Then let’s stop talking about them.”

“Pro-democracy advocates aren’t making their case strongly enough. Oh wait, they’re all in jail you say? Well then let’s just ignore that”

December 10, 2012 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

MOST of you Chicom bashers, I am sorry to say, miss the point. The CCP led SWCC IS (not WAS) the most successful economic system in the world, having achieved what NO OTHER SYSTEM is capable of even theoretically achieving. Pure capitalizm empirically brings huge ups and DOWNS, causing instability and turmoil on the down leg. The Chicoms have worked out a method and a system to smooth out the down so there is literally only growth, and what glorious growth it was!!

At the risk of repeating – NO OTHER SYSTEM was capable of achieving this type of transformation on an extended basis like China’s (and the reforms and successes are still progressing AS WE SPEAK). It makes it RATHER SILLY for China bashers to insist that China must do something else. LIKE WHAT? Throw away success and adopt gridlock and failure?

At the end of WW II, China not only was war ravished, China had a illiteracy rate exceeding 85% when Mao took power, and life expectancy was around 50. Slightly better than America at time of establishment, but not by much.Yet today, after a short few decades, China has a literacy rate of over 97%. Today, China has a life expectancy at birth only a few years behind that of America (despite the fact that the per capita health spending is less than 1/20th that in America). More Americans will probably die of the West Nile virus this year than Chinese of SARS at its peak. Doing more with less is a Chinese specialty.

Through hard work and discipline (which Westerners obviously lack), over the past three decades, China has been able to accumulate over 3 trillion dollars in foreign currency reserves.

For innovation, China has BSB – the system and technology to build the 30 storey hotel in 15 days. By year end BSB will likely start work on the world’s tallest building, to be completed in 90 days. China builds infrastructure with a 30% cost advantage over the West. Its construction machine industry is growing from strength to strength. By 2050, it is likely that Caterpillar and Komatsu will just be memories. And it is poignant to note that infrastructure is meat and potatos (or seafood and rice in Chinese terms) job creators, unlike flighty high tech, sustaining huge number of good, solid paying jobs by Chinese standards (engineering jobs around $1,000 a month).

The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.

In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.

In 2010, the production of certain commodities:
Steel: China 627 million tons. USA 80 million.
Cotton: China 7.3 million tons. USA 3.4 million.

15 years ago, China was 14th in the world in published scientific research articles. Today China is expected to pass the United States and become number one very shortly. China now awards more doctoral degrees in engineering each year than the United States does.

China now has several of the fastest supercomputers in the top 20 in the world. Lenovo is months away from being No. 1 in the world in PCs. By 2020, China would likely be producing more computers than the rest of the world combined.

China now has the world’s fastest train and the world’s most extensive high-speed rail network.

China is now the number one producer of wind and solar power on the entire globe.

China controls over 90 percent of the total global supply of rare earth elements.

China is now the number one supplier of a number of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.

In China, the average household debt load is 17% of average household income; that compares with 136% in the USA.

China today graduates 6 million college grads a year, with half of them in the sciences and engineering. Doing R&D in China costs only 1/5th of that in the West.

If Chicoms are bad or if SWCC is madness, there is a method to that madness, and it is improving the lives of the Chinese citizens year after year, without major dips.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:06 am | Comment

Dissidents are in jail in some countries. At least they are alive. There are no drones chasing their family car’s tail pipe with missiles.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:09 am | Comment

As for SKC’s broken record assertion that China’s economy would have done “just as well” with or without the Chicoms, the FACTUAL EVIDENCE simply blows that theory out of the water.

Nobody else did it or is doing it. Nobody else knows how to do it. Nobody can muster 8.4% growth in Q4, 2012. Nobody can do 34 years of continuous growth without a major recession. 10% growth for 34 years, without any major recession. The West (including all its Nobel Prize winning economist) could even explain how the Chicoms did it, or is doing it. It is like trying to explain quantum mechanics to kindergarteners – they lack the language and the math to even comprehend, let alone replicate.

So they talk about “human rights” instead.

December 11, 2012 @ 3:05 am | Comment

#268-270, yawn. Is that broken record still playing? Is that guy getting paid by the word?

If things are so great, why not let Chinese people be the judge? Hello, anybody home?

Anyone recall what happened before 1980? Bueller? Bueller?

Hey, zookeeper and Jason, where are the witty barbs about Liu’s suggestion #1 from Charter 08 (see #252). That’s why I always say about CCP apologists that you get more from what they don’t say than from what they do say (especially when faced with zoolander’s repeated verbal diarrhea).

Alright boys and girls, next sweet morsel from that advent calendar.

“2. Separation of powers. We should construct a modern government in which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is guaranteed. We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power. Government should be responsible to taxpayers. Division of power between provincial governments and the central government should adhere to the principle that central powers are only those specifically granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local governments.”

Jason and zoo-meister, don’t let that cat get your tongue now, y’hear.

December 11, 2012 @ 4:12 am | Comment

“2. Separation of powers. We should construct a modern government in which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is guaranteed.

First off, not sure why LXB conflates a “modern government” with one where separation of powers is guaranteed. (A parliamentary system like the UK’s does not separate executive and legislative powers in a clean fashion.) Second, why is that the right choice for China? Remember that the last time China tried separating executive and legislative powers, the Yuan Shi-kai ended up making the KMT-controlled parliament useless. Finally, if you make the power structures in the State too convoluted, you increase the need for non-State institutions (political parties) to coordinate political appointments and decisions across the branches, which usually cuts down on government transparency.

Separation of powers is not a bad idea in theory, but it is a bad idea if carried to excess. This idea needs more discussion.

We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power. Government should be responsible to taxpayers.

This idea makes a ton of sense and is an area in which, if executed properly, China can lead the world. The administrative law should be implemented nationwide, but strict fiscal transparency should be introduced more carefully.

I’d recommend the fiscal half be implemented in a rich(er) coastal city (say, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Shanghai, Wenzhou, or Shenzhen) first, and gradually introduced to other cities without debt-repayment problems.

Why the debt issue? One sticking point in this is that past 2015 or so, many Chinese cities will be locked into repaying their debt binge from the past ten years, and hence they will be paying back a lot of tax revenue to the center (the banks in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen/Hong Kong) rather than spending it on local services (or seizing a bunch of land to sell off in a desperate attempt to stay solvent). Making citizens of those cities too… aware (the right word?) of that debt would encourage labor and capital to move from more indebted cities to less indebted ones, and lock debt-laden cities into a bankruptcy spiral.

Division of power between provincial governments and the central government should adhere to the principle that central powers are only those specifically granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local governments.”

This jives with what I’ve said previously–that the CCP needs to be able to tell its citizens that there are things the government can’t do on their behalf. This is a great idea and will neatly absolve the center from blame for any morass that comes out of debt repayment and local governance issues.

December 11, 2012 @ 4:32 am | Comment

“1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution, rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China’s democratization. The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party.”

China’s current constitution, from a legal standpoint, is fine. What China really needs is to actually follow it–or barring that, change it to reflect political reality. If that means making the constitution explicitly call for one-Party rule and de facto governance by the PSB, then so be it, no need for government-by-fig-leaf. On the other hand, I’d be a lot more impressed here if Liu actually illustrated how to build respect for constitutional law into China’s legislature and judiciary.

Overall, though, this is one of those changes that is unlikely to have any near-term effects, and hence will be low-priority in the upcoming administration. I’d really get a ton more excited if Liu talked about how to do that.

December 11, 2012 @ 4:41 am | Comment

@SKC 272

You might as well be preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven or some such silliness. YOU may be full of faith (or in my view, full of it) and truly believe that democracy is “better”. But that’s neither here nor there.

There is NO EVIDENCE AT ALL that whatever you are writing or wet dreaming about actually works better than SWCC. The FACTS are that the Chicoms led the best performing (growth) major economic system known to Man in the last 3 decades.

December 11, 2012 @ 5:19 am | Comment

jxie, your comment way up there got caught in the spam filter because of all the links. Sorry.

Separation of powers is essential. Maybe not 100 percent separation, but without it there can be no effective rule of law.

December 11, 2012 @ 5:19 am | Comment

Liu Xiaobo’s interview in 1988 was, in my view, a swipe at the way the CCP keeps using the mortifications of the past for justifying the mortification it inflicts on the people itself.

Was it unwise to make that statement? Maybe, but I don’t think it was. When friends of mine wish British or American occupation back on Germany (which happens from time to time), I understand their sarcasm. In fact, I wish the Brits would have been able to keep the political parties out of public broadcasting, for example, before handing much of their power over to those German parties. Would have done our broadcasters a lot of good. But naturally, this has become our business now.

I don’t doubt my friends’ patriotism. And I don’t need to prove mine by doubting theirs.

December 11, 2012 @ 5:46 am | Comment

To 275,
you, definitely, are up to your eyeballs butt-kissing the CCP. But that sentiment is as worthless as yesterday’s newspaper. Not to mention you even lack the strength of conviction to live under the environment you so adore. The only thing you can do is prescribe it for others. So all in all you’re just a waste of time.

I notice you’ve swallowed your tongue on the particulars of what Liu wrote. Typical. Predicting CCP apologist behaviour is like predicting the sunrise.

+++++++++++++++++

To T-co,
I think the example you cited is one where separation of powers did NOT succeed. If the executive can render the legislature obsolete, then there is no separation to speak of. I don’t think it argues that such a system is not right for China.

It’s true China has a constitution. It’s also not worth the paper it’s written on. And it’s too CCP-centric. Makes sense to me to have a constitution that focuses on people, and not a political pary.

December 11, 2012 @ 6:11 am | Comment

@Richard 276

“Separation of powers is essential.”

WHY? Without inquiry, it is merely faith, faith that cannot withstand the daylight of empirical data. Rule of law can perform well in a one-party meritocracy where the top leaders are well chosen.

Besides, the term “rule of law” assumes that there is a set of laws, and the system stick to those laws. Subsumed within that is the assumption that when society and the world changes, the laws change. It is MUCH MORE EFFICIENT and FLEXIBLE to have the one party to make new laws (much faster reforms, as is experienced in China today) and decide what laws mean (e.g., which cult is to be outlawed) than using the guaranteed gridlock of democracy.

December 11, 2012 @ 6:12 am | Comment

The CPC’s centrality in China’s Constitution accounts for most of the success of SWCC. The system provides reasonable guaranties that the national leaders chosen are qualified, proven on the job to be capable, dedicated, and can work well with contemporaries. The centrality also eliminates wasteful gridlock and liars’ contests.

December 11, 2012 @ 6:27 am | Comment

The CCP-centric constitution works well for the CCP, no question. Is it a prerequisite for China’s success? Nope. You certainly have no proof of it (and don’t be stupid and just use correlation again). And since you make the affirmative assertion that the CCP is essential, the onus of proof is on you. You’re like a newbie student in a first-year logic class…and not a very bright one.

Are you seriously suggesting that “rule of law” is working well in China right now? LOL. Separation of powers helps to ensure that no one arm of government, person, or party, can trample over the law and people’s rights. That is precisely what happens in the CCP aristocracy.

December 11, 2012 @ 6:36 am | Comment

@SKC:

All crows are black. Those in power WILL trample the rights of the plebeians, no matter what form of government there is. America the democracy was the most murderous (wiped out over 95% of the native population) in ethnic cleansing, and enslaved 1/3 of its denizens for many decades.

More modern examples? 9 old geezers deciding to annoint Dubya as supreme commander, who then duly declared the “Unified Executive” doctrine, and celebrated the use of torture (these doctrines are live and well in America today – go watch the new movie on killing Bin Laden (“Zero Dark Thirty”, which celebrates waterboarding and use of boxing (as in putting in a small box) as routine procedures). And since legalizing pol-bribing is not enough, see Citizens United. Looking in from the outside, the clowns are really no less frightening than any that Stephen King can depict. Where and what is this so called superiority of separation of powers?

The only thing that a system can excel in is how to best select capable leaders. The CPC centric system is one of the best in ensuring that.

December 11, 2012 @ 7:00 am | Comment

@Richard (241): Why is the PEW survey “infamous”? The paper you quote doesn’t deny its validity but puts it into perspective in comparison with other similar surveys. Having said that, the Easterlin paper provides much needed discussion on this subject and makes several good points:

“The surveys conducted to date‡ have tended to be disproportionately urban (e.g., the Pew and Asiabarometer surveys). Economic growth was disproportionately urban during this period, with urban incomes rising markedly relative to rural incomes (10– 12). Thus, even though the life satisfaction data have an urban bias during this period, economic growth does as well, and comparing the two factors seems reasonable.”

“It would be a mistake to conclude from the life satisfaction experience of China, and the transition countries more generally, that a return to socialism and the gross inefficiencies of central planning would be beneficial. However, our data suggest an important policy lesson, that jobs and job and income security, together with a social safety net, are of critical importance to life satisfaction.”

Actually, the PEW site contains a lot of information, not just on China, and one thing I noted before when checking it out was that optimism in general tended to be much higher in developing countries. It might just be human nature; things are visibly changing and people in these countries have something to look forward to, whereas the developed countries are facing an economic slump and the future looks very uncertain. Change is more important than current level of well-being, which also reminds me of the results from other investigations that says that below a certain level, material increase actually makes you happier. When you get above that, you need other changes.

I don’t have more time right now so the rest will be short, but I think this constant focus on growth rates is misguided. Different talent is needed for different stages – Mao could create the PRC, but he couldn’t rule the country very well. Deng could create the current system and transform the current system, but his ideas won’t necessarily be able to lead to higher-quality growth. Countries grow at high levels when they are poor, not when they’re approaching developed status. Whether China can get past the current stage and avoid middle-income stagnation is the one million dollar question that is up to Xi and his colleagues.

December 11, 2012 @ 7:05 am | Comment

“Those in power WILL trample the rights of the plebeians”
—if there is no mechanism to check that power. Which is precisely the point of separation of powers, and precisely what’s missing under the CCP. Of course, in the CCP’s case, it’s the confluence of lack of power separation, lack of rule of law, and lack of constitutional protections (did I forget anything?).

American foreign policy is not a weakness of her democracy. And I have every intention of watching ZDT, which is garnering much Oscar buzz. And I’ve been a fan of Bigelow since Hurt Locker, and of course I’m a fan of Jessica Chastain.

I would let Chinese people decide what works best for them. And I’d let them decide how best to select their leaders, rather than just letting the CCP do it behind closed and corrupt doors. I mean, look at you. You love the CCP, just not enough to be under them. How noble.

December 11, 2012 @ 7:31 am | Comment

@WKL 283. First Pew is a very competent pollster by the other polls they have done. For any pollsters worth their beans, if they over-poll a subset of the population and there is a traceable bias between those within and without the subset, the pollster has to adjust for the polling bias — this is Polling 101 that may involve a bit math Sheldon Cooper learned at age 8 but many have never learned in their lives. Personally at least in the last decade or so, I’ve found the rural residents are more satisfied than the urbanites. One thing stands out for the Hu/Wen era — good or bad it’s up to you — it’s their ability to increase the tax base (at this point for an apple-to-apple comparison, already larger than the US federal tax base), and distribute the wealth to places like health insurance, rural pension, etc. Urbanites on the other hand have their gripes such as rising housing price.

In Pew’s data, not all developing nations are happy, e.g. Kenya at 19% (2011), Lebanon at 11% (2011), Pakistan at 12% (2012). My prediction is that the post-Arab Spring “sugar high” experienced by Egypt will wear off, and they will make a new low soon — regardless nominally they are a democracy or not, at least a democracy endorsed by a few Western governments. Their fundamental problem is the lack of proper education among the overly populated young age groups.

It’ll be a very lengthy discussion on why/how some are doing well and some aren’t. For starter, many call China an authoritarian, a Leninist, or even a dictatorship (with a dictatorial retirement pension plan apparently), I would think calling it a resurrected and reformed Confucian society might be more accurate nowadays. What it means is, even if Egypt after the “sugar high”, wants to emulate China — it may not be able to!

Anyway, if something works, why mess with it? At a blackjack table, if something appears to be “working”, it may be mathematically a bad play. But do we have that type of scientific certainty in political science and economics? Maybe all theories we know now will be laughed at a couple of generations later — heck, just think about what people held as truths before the global financial meltdown and the pain they had gone through when the system was shaken to its core. I can’t help but think maybe most of the early 21st century Western democracies are reserve-mortgaging their futures now and they simply can’t stop it? — and you won’t know the endgame ’til everything is reserve-mortgaged… But I don’t know, I am just thinking out-loud.

A lot of what’s discussed here reminds me of the option backdating “scandal” at Apple when Jobs was still alive. Some aggressive prosecutors who sometimes make their bone by slaying the “big guns” floated the idea that they might go after Jobs, to pretentiously protect the shareholder interest. Well, at this very moment, going after the Chinese system that is producing fabulous results, is kind of like that.

December 11, 2012 @ 8:57 am | Comment

@jxie 285

Running economies is definitely not comparable to gambling (blckjack, craps, etc.). Historically, there is no evidence that nations and peoples take random turns at doing well. If economies do well, it is because someone planned, and those plans worked. Even in a “free market” economy, there has to be enabling infrastructure buildup that does not come about without careful planning and expert execution of such plans.

There is nothing magical about the Chicom plans. Unlike this opaque phenomenon known as the “free market” (where different players have different access to info), the Chicom plans for the Chinese economy is open for comments.

December 11, 2012 @ 9:59 am | Comment

@zhubaajie 269

Actually, HEAPS of countries have gotten to this level of development. Brazil, South Korea, Japan, etc. Stats mean nothing. China has the largest population in the world at a developing economic stage with massive investment model to supercharge it hence they have large hard commodity output. But it’s going to crash.

http://english.caixin.com/2012-08-13/100423159.html

http://www.mpettis.com/2012/09/16/by-2015-hard-commodity-prices-will-have-collapsed/

The amount of scientific articles doesn’t really doesn’t allude to anything especially when they’ve done the top down approach of ordering faculties to write/plagiarise certain quotas by a certain date. Science is certainly about quality not quantity. America is still the most innovative country in the world has been for quite a long time for a reason. I’m not American but I can respect when a country is great at something and learn from them.

http://thisischinablog.com/2012/10/31/kai-fu-gets-it/

http://concordnewsradio.com/?p=908

BTW China’s economic rise has been impressive but not miraculous. It has been explained and examined many times over. Actually Japan did a very similar thing only they didn’t have any where near the amount of overinvestment imbalance that China has and look at it now. Stagnant economy. debt is 200% of GDP.

Why? Because of overinvestment of infrastructure and lack of political will to break up the big companies and slow down the real estate bubble among the many reasons. The government couldn’t make the hard choices needed to rebalance the economy so they got the lost decade. Years and years and years of stagnant growth.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. People say Japan was a different kettle of fish. That’s right. When Japan hit this equivalent level of breakneck GDP growth, they had social security, one of the best education systems, extremely developed rule of law and very well developed technology and innovation sector at this level in their development (and they didn’t have to shit on human rights to get there!). China vastly lacks in these sectors in comparison.

China has flogged the current economic investment model to death. Chinese and foreign leaders and experts are pretty unanimous on that. Even the most bullish of China experts are now admitting their are some serious roadblocks ahead. Xi Jin Ping, Wen Jiao Bao and Hu Jin Tao have all reiterated this. Turning it into action?

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/13/role-of-soes-in-china-s-future/eihr

http://english.caixin.com/2012-08-13/100423159.html

http://www.mpettis.com/2012/10/27/when-the-growth-model-changes-abandon-the-correlations/

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/08/corruption-and-reform-in-china/eigx

If the government in China doesn’t have the clout to overcome the vested interests that have gained so much from the current economic investment model, then China is in for Japan in the 90’s times 3. I hope they do. With the level of corruption atm I am cautiously optimistic.

Again, if the CCP can overcome corruption and do it, great. Singapore did it with one party so it’s possible. I’d like it see it happen. It’s in every country’s best interest.

BTW. This is called the Peking Duck, hence I am writing about China. If it was called the Washington Turkey, I’d write about America. But I don’t live in America and it doesn’t interest me a whole lot. I lived in China for ten years, so I have an interest in it’s development. I’m not writing about the U.S.A. so please don’t respond in reference to it.

December 11, 2012 @ 10:08 am | Comment

@curl 287

China is the No. 2 economy, America is No. 1. You cannot talk about what is good for China without comparisons.

China is very much different from Japan. The level of development is still low. In a globalized world it means that China still enjoys tremendous comparative advantages in costs. Infrastructure building for example – Chinese teams can offer (a) engineering cost at 30% lowe; and (b) available financing. These are not cut rate financing, but LIBOR plus 3 or 4%, rather profitable but still competitive.

The China price model is far from exhausted. It is just getting started, as Chinese exports to the entire world (don’t just think of the First World) ramps up. China is very well placed to take full advantage of the worldwide economic recovery. It would not surprise if the Chinese economy goes back to 10% growth in a couple of years.

December 11, 2012 @ 10:37 am | Comment

Well, unfortunately, the Chinese leaders have no intention of using the model for much longer for good reason.

You’ve contradicted yourself 3 times in one post.

1. Pardon me if I trust 90% of the world’s financial experts and the head CCP leaders (that you spought are always right) over you.

2. You are the one always telling us you can’t compare ‘western’ economies with the Chinese economy and here you are saying the complete opposite.

If you’re going to compare China’s economy, compare it to a country that is or was at a similar stage of development.

3. You just said I shouldn’t compare Japan for that exact reason. Although I think it was at a similar stage of development. America, obviously not.

You’re either playing devil’s advocate or you lack understanding/intelligence.

FAIL. EPIC FAIL.

December 11, 2012 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Er, mumble mumble – Curl, I’d respond if I know what you are talking about.

China’s exports are at a crossover stage. Sales by China to 1st world nations is now less than that to the rest of the world. And that trend will continue. Beijing is doing a great job of developing the economies of the developing nations, so in turn they can buy more Made in China. China is the nation that is best reaping the benefits of globalization. It’s well priced Made in China goods are most suitable for the close to 5 billion people of the developing world.

So I totally disagree with the assessment that China’s exports is going to shrink.

In the next two decades, the mix of technology and IP content is going to change. You will see many more China products protected by IP (Copyrights, design registrations, etc.), and you will see new business/legal combinations such as massive IP portfolios, which translate to higher profits.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

Remind me, how do those things require the CCP? How would the rule of law, freedom of speech, and information freedom within CHina, curtail any of those activities? How would Chinese people screw those things up but for the paternalism of the CCP? This I would love to hear.

December 11, 2012 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

This thread has gone on long enough. I’ll open another one in a day or so.

December 11, 2012 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

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