Han Horse

I went to a meeting of a local Chinese-American relations committee last night, and I briefly mentioned my book, specifically alluding to the careful documentation of the emperors’ sex lives during the Han Dynasty. As I finished, I noticed the Chinese man next to me scribbling with a pen on a paper napkin. “Han Dynasty,” he said to me, and handed me the napkin. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the end of the meeting and slipped out before I could ask him to explain it to me. In any case, the drawing was so beautiful I had to post it here. Remember, he created it in about three minutes. (Click to enlarge.)

This is another open thread and I’m closing the last one. Finally.

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

The Discussion: 65 Comments

Are you still in Phoenix?

January 11, 2013 @ 6:13 am | Comment

I’m not particularly good at reading calligraphy, but isn’t the text a brief recounting of the “heavenly horses” (tianma) legend associated with Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty?

January 11, 2013 @ 6:16 am | Comment

Unfortunately I am, t_co.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:17 am | Comment

Robert, that would make sense. I still can’t believe how quickly he created it.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:18 am | Comment

I might know the guy who drew this. Did he have a goatee and glasses?

January 11, 2013 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Glasses for sure, don’t recall the goatee. He seemed to be in his 50s and had a Chinese accent. Can you read his calligraphy?

January 11, 2013 @ 6:28 am | Comment

That’s cool!
天马来兮从西极,经万里兮归有德。
承灵威兮降外国,涉流沙兮四夷服。
汉武帝《天马歌》

January 11, 2013 @ 6:32 am | Comment

It’s a poem attributed to Emperor Wu of Han–it’s included in the Shi ji 史記.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:36 am | Comment

Just replied to you on FB: My wife tells me it’s a poem written by the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty, Liu Zhe. He was renowned for having sex every night, and the text describes his wish for a horse sent from the heavens, because only such a horse would guarantee him conquering all. That was the gist, I think.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:36 am | Comment

天馬來兮從西極,經萬里兮歸有德。承靈威兮降外國,涉流沙兮四夷服。

That was written by the Mao of the Han Dynasty, except Han Wu Di (Han Military King) was all gungho on expansion through military conquests. Big, powerful horses were indispensable in cold weapons ages, if military conquest was the goal.

Is there a modern equivalent? Yes and no. Modern China has no desire to 降外國 (defeat foreign countries) . 四夷服 (all barbarians pay respect) is all benign, but still should not come through military power (unless provoked). Technology is probably the modern equivalent of the horses of yore, and the wish is to put the technology to use by the virtuous – hence 歸有德.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:39 am | Comment

Xilin
You seem to think that I am trying to gloss over European colonial atrocities.

You are. By equating their policies with China’s you are diminishing the scale of their atrocities. If that’s not what you mean, then you have to rewrite your statements.

Re-read my comments on how different people view historical events such as those in Vietnam. Your use of language, and mine, illustrates my point.

Sorry, there’s no way to reinterpret the Ming’s expedition in the 1400s as an imperialist venture. If you’re going only by how the Vietnamese felt, contemporaneous Vietnamese would probably not agree with one another – which illustrates how useless that metric is.

Please provide links to the data you have that shows that Chinese people have the lowest crime rates.

They’re easy enough to find. Try interpol and Wikipedia to start.

I am illustrating that atrocities have been committed by peoples and cultures around the world.

Then you’re arguing against no one, as I said before. I am speaking only of scale and degree, which you repeatedly ignore in a bid to whitewash European atrocities. I will give you points for semantics, but your basic argument of “how do we know China won’t be as bad as Europeans?” is not holding any water.

When I reference 山地平地化, you first say that they were not other peoples. When I blow that out of the water

Nope. What I said was that they were essentially “Chinese nationals”. China did not send missionaries backed by force into foreign territories, and it did not force other nations to accept their culture on the threat of invasion as Muslims and Christians did many, many times. Nor did it use economic/financial pressure to Sinicize its neighbors. You are taking things completely out of context.

Take note of this point because it’s important: this precedent matters especially today because of the unlikelihood of China invading and occupying some other nation. Unlike the Saudis or Christian groups all over the world China does not fund the destruction and replacement of other cultures. Which comes first matters because it delineates strategic possibilities quite clearly.

The KMT banned the usage of tribal languages (and obviously Japanese) in schools and forced which language on the aboriginals? Chinese.

Specifically Mandarin. Are they equally guilty of wiping out Hoklo culture then?

Lastly China is unlikely to be nearly as bad as Europeans ever were because even IF they were:
1) as inherently prone to genocide as Europeans
2) as culturally triumphalist/racist as Europeans
3) as resource hungry/greedy as Europeans
4) as possessed of a fanatical missionary impulse as Europeans

The overall geopolitical conditions and asymmetry in state power between China and potential victims are tilted against China’s favor. Even if China wanted to murder hundreds of millions and cut off people’s hands at the elbow if they failed to meet certain quotas, they wouldn’t be able to.

This should satisfy you.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:46 am | Comment

Handler
Clearly it is not. A very large proportion of US military bases around the world (established either without invasion or continued beyond significant threats) indicate that *soft power*, not only hard power, has worth.

Perhaps I misunderstand the term, but I am doubtful that hamburgers and Lady Gaga have that much to do with the presence of US military bases in most nations around the world. They’re mostly there because the US pays off nations or exploits and amplifies regional rivalries to get a foothold. I guess it boils down to whether or not psyops are considered soft power.

it simply means the ability to wield military/economic might *without significant political blowback*

In this case, isn’t the tide of anti-Americanism after the fall of Mubarak (an American puppet) proof that America’s military presence there resulted in political blowback? How about 9/11?

Likewise, other nations’ sensitivity over a nation’s military moves is a powerful testimony to a failure of soft power.

I’m not sure what you are referencing here. The only people truly anxious about China’s military are those that have competing territorial claims. The fact that US rags constantly say all of China’s neighbors are terrified does not mean it’s actually true. Even Malaysia and Brunei have been relatively quiet about developments in the SCS, it’s just the Viets and Filipinos (who have a history of bloody conflicts with each other) that are complaining, only to have their machinations derailed by Cambodia and Indonesia.

Ah…considering that resistance comes about through rather obvious propaganda and coercion?

No, it comes about predominantly through common sense secondarily from a lack of exposure to American agitprop.

Locking oneself in a room and reading only the newspapers you create to make you feel good is no one’s definition of power.

Soft power matters when your own citizens are involved.

I’ve never understood why the PRC apologists think this is the best the West could do if it wanted to slander China. Cynicism will only get you so far.

I’ve never understood why Western apologists think they could do any better. If you could, you would. However myself and many others here are proof that there are limits to how much BS one can spew before people start to dismiss everything said as propaganda. Just in case you have forgotten I’d like to remind you that there are many other Chinese polities aside from the PRC.

January 11, 2013 @ 6:58 am | Comment

Finally, Xilin, if you consider the ROC’s policies towards the aborigines as coercive you must likewise condemn Spain, France and Britain’s policies toward their Celtic/Basque linguistic minorities.

January 11, 2013 @ 7:00 am | Comment

Anyway, the “Heavenly Horse” poem would be considered very non-PC today. China’s stated goal is to treat all foreign nations as equals.

January 11, 2013 @ 7:09 am | Comment

This is getting merrier by the week.

3 sorties of Chinese planes, including J-10s and J-7s, took patrol over China’s territory. The JP air force scrambled F-15s.

http://military.china.com/important/11132797/20130110/17626364.html

The boycott of JP goods, initiated and maintained by the Chinese people themselves with no government interference, is going to last a very long time.

As of year end 2012, Beijing’s foreign currency wad was US$3.31 Trillion.

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=30288&icid=a&d_str=

If it all pans out, with all the short Yen bets already in play, by the time this is said and done (probably 12 months), the wad would grow to $4 Trillion. These are truly exciting times to be Chinese.

January 11, 2013 @ 7:28 am | Comment

This is funny. After reading through a few comments, then as I read the poem I interpreted it in a similar manner, but then I took another read after studying the picture, I started to gain a new meaning from the poem. This Han emperor was known for his military feats, yes, just as all the emperors before and after him, he had to prove himself so to keep his empire well under rule. Anyway, he was so happy to receive this white horse as a “gift” in another country that he wrote this poem. Not this legendary bloody horse he was after, but still close. This horse was so good-looking and handsome and white that he praised it as a heavenly horse, a horse from heaven, a heavenly blessing, a horse coming down from heaven. Note that the last two words in the first sentence, literally meaning “west extreme”, actually refers to the Far West, considered to be the ultimate paradise – bliss in heaven, paradise in the west. Considered so, because it used to be a much unexplored land to the west of China. As for where the heaven or paradise is now, that is another long story, eh.

January 11, 2013 @ 7:30 am | Comment

Yeah, the other posters pretty much nailed the content.

Anyhow, was asking because this looks awfully like a drawing one of our family friends made at a house party around seven or eight years ago. I’ll ask my dad if he still has it.

January 11, 2013 @ 7:53 am | Comment

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/29/the_coming_collapse_of_china_2012_edition

The subtitle of this article was:

I admit it: My prediction that the Communist Party would fall by 2011 was wrong. Still, I’m only off by a year.

[ Wait, I thought he predicted it would fall by 2001, not 2011. You mean he predicted again it will fall in 2011? ]

And the last sentence of this article was:

So, yes, my prediction was wrong. Instead of 2011, the mighty Communist Party of China will fall in 2012. Bet on it.

January 11, 2013 @ 8:29 am | Comment

The horse looks to me like it could be a version of the Flying Horse of WuWei, http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/30Arts385.html

January 11, 2013 @ 8:46 am | Comment

Richard,
You may be interested to read some more background on those “celestial horses” here: http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/685-the-heavenly-horse-tian-ma-

The drawing itself brings to mind the horse paintings of Xu Beihong.

January 11, 2013 @ 9:16 am | Comment

Thanks to all of you who’ve offered translation and analysis of the horse. You’ve broadened my horizons (especially sadenshi). It was an amazing experience watching him draw this so quickly and effortlessly. Never saw anything like it before.

January 11, 2013 @ 9:21 am | Comment

@Cookie

“Perhaps I misunderstand the term, but I am doubtful that hamburgers and Lady Gaga have that much to do with the presence of US military bases in most nations around the world. They’re mostly there because the US pays off nations or exploits and amplifies regional rivalries to get a foothold.”

You do misunderstand the implications of the term, and while it may seem ridiculous to you that hamburgers and Lady Gaga have no impact on US military bases, they (regrettably, in the cases you cited) do, as did Jazz and Rock and Roll in the Cold War. The post-war period is culturally best characterized by iconoclasm, whether through the more perverse strains of cultural revolution and oppressive communist ideology or its more liberating strains implicit initially in US-allied values (which many would argue have now become oppressive and less than liberal). US culture was remarkably well placed throughout this trend and served to reaffirm the polity of other nations that the US shared their interests and aspirations, despite some of the nation’s more egregious errors. Many US bases established in the Cold War period now have something of a “legacy” element to them, but this speaks to a level of trust achieved by no other major power. The bases don’t come at a cheap price for other nations. Yes, the costs are nearly always “shared” in some form, but local governments typically need to invest heavily in building the infrastructure and/or pay a substantial amount of the operating costs (amounting to about $2 billion a year for Japan, for example). I’m not sure how many regional rivalries you think the US is exploiting and amplifying in Europe, and I suggest this accusation be made on a case by case basis.

“In this case, isn’t the tide of anti-Americanism after the fall of Mubarak (an American puppet) proof that America’s military presence there resulted in political blowback? How about 9/11?”

Without a doubt the US has faced political blowback for some of its actions, but history shows this is never sustained for very long unless it is continued and encouraged by rather obvious propaganda. I wouldn’t call 9/11 political blowback, if that’s what your elliptical question suggests, nor do I think the agents who claimed responsibility for it ever offered a credible reason to believe so. If it was, I’m afraid the US getting little more than a slap on the wrist for invading 2 countries in the aftermath is not strong testimony to the restrictions it imposed.

“I’m not sure what you are referencing here. The only people truly anxious about China’s military are those that have competing territorial claims.”

Well, you should be. The same Pew research shows an overwhelming global belief that China’s growing military power is “a bad thing” for the countries polled. Take the 57% in the Ukraine who hold this view, compared to the 12% who believe it’s a good thing. Or the 51 and 55% who believe it is a bad thing for Brazil and Mexico respectively, compared to 29 and 26% favorable. Or the 66% who believe it is a bad thing for Turkey. Note this is not “generally worriesome” but a bad thing for the countries polled. What competing territorial claims do these nations have with China?

“No, it comes about predominantly through common sense secondarily from a lack of exposure to American agitprop.”

I guess the widespread predation of (domestic) reporters stems from the same source. In China, at least.

“I’ve never understood why Western apologists think they could do any better. If you could, you would.”

Cook, you’ve got to look at your positions once in a while and recognize how extreme they are. As I said, this goes beyond cynicism. It is an exceedingly dangerous combination of hubris (“this is the best you’ve got!”) and completely self-assured paranoia.

“Just in case you have forgotten I’d like to remind you that there are many other Chinese polities aside from the PRC.”

Thanks for the reminder. You’ll forgive me if I forget from time to time since apologists frequently assume their interests coincide.

January 11, 2013 @ 9:30 am | Comment

@CM

‘By equating their policies with China’s you are diminishing the scale of their atrocities.’

I am discussing human impulses and tendencies with the aim of highlighting that they are universal, regardless of national history or cultural background. People around the world are all pretty good at butchering each other. Check out the top five on the Wiki page on ‘List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll’.

You haven’t provided any links to show that the Chinese have the lowest crime rates. I can’t find data on Interpol or Wikipedia to show this either. If you don’t want to post a link, give me the title of the page and I will Google it. If you fail to do so, I will have to assume that you don’t have any such data.

You claimed you were ‘not aware of any attempts by any Chinese polity to force its culture on other peoples’.

The example I have provided clearly shows a Chinese polity (the KMT) forcing its culture (political, nationalistic ideology, language etc.) on other peoples (the aboriginals). You state, correctly, that the actions of the KMT in this instance cannot compare to numerous acts of cultural imperialism committed by Christians and Muslims. But you have not refuted my claim, and I am not taking this one example out of context. I am sticking very close to the context which you provided (a ‘Chinese polity’ and ‘other peoples’). Can I give you another example of a Chinese polity forcing its culture on other peoples now?

‘Sorry, there’s no way to reinterpret the Ming’s expedition in the 1400s’

That’s what the Vietnamese would say. You are illustrating my point for me.

‘How do we know China won’t be as bad as Europeans [or the Japanese, or Arabs etc.]?’

We don’t. I am merely trying to state that it is possible. Are you claiming that it is impossible?

‘Finally, Xilin, if you consider the ROC’s policies towards the aborigines as coercive you must likewise condemn Spain, France and Britain’s policies toward their Celtic/Basque linguistic minorities.’

‘Coercive’? The only word you can think of to describe the actions of the KMT and comparable government programs in Spain, France and Britain is ‘coercive’. I condemn all of them. What is your point?

January 11, 2013 @ 10:27 am | Comment

Handler
The post-war period is culturally best characterized by iconoclasm … US culture was remarkably well placed throughout this trend and served to reaffirm the polity of other nations that the US shared their interests and aspirations, despite some of the nation’s more egregious errors.

I don’t see how rock and roll helped America prop up dictatorships all around the world, e.g. Iran, Chile, Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the ROC in Taiwan, Indonesia, Haiti, Argentina, etc but my ears are open. There are also American-backed one-party “democracies” such as the near-uninterrupted rule of the LDP in Japan for 60 years or so.

this speaks to a level of trust achieved by no other major power

I wouldn’t call it trust. Certainly, the Egyptian public does not trust America – not that it mattered for 30 years, when they were tortured if they were to truly oppose American interests.

I’m not sure how many regional rivalries you think the US is exploiting and amplifying in Europe

I’m not sure how you got the idea I was speaking of Europe only, as America certainly has a much broader presence in the world.

but history shows this is never sustained for very long unless it is continued and encouraged by rather obvious propaganda.

That’s because American preeminence itself hasn’t been sustained for very long. And anti-Americanism certainly been around for just as long, if not much longer. It seems to be a nigh universal phenomenon, and it’s growing rapidly in ex-PRC Chinese states as well – it must be all that anti-American propaganda being spewed by the ROC and Hong Kong governments.

nor do I think the agents who claimed responsibility for it ever offered a credible reason to believe so.

Considering the “agents who claimed responsibility” specifically pointed out American foreign policy as the reason behind the attack (and many attacks prior), I’m going to disagree.

I’m afraid the US getting little more than a slap on the wrist for invading 2 countries in the aftermath

I’m afraid you are unaware that it takes a bit longer than a decade to truly know the final outcome of these two wars, but if you will take a look at al-Qaeda’s manifesto you have succeeded in meeting 15 out of 15 (or 16?) objectives they listed, in the precise order they hoped for. Beyond the 3 trillion dollar price tag, the future is still open for interpretation.

The same Pew research shows an overwhelming global belief that China’s growing military power is “a bad thing” for the countries polled …

The overwhelming majority of people everywhere think that everyone’s military might except their own is a bad thing. You have no point because there is no reference or baseline to glean – what should we call it – global anxiety from.

you’ve got to look at your positions once in a while and recognize how extreme they are.

Sorry, you are in no position to frame the argument and tell me whose opinion is extreme or not. The only thing salient about my positions is that they’re stubbornly grounded in fact, and I apologize if that offends you.

You’ll forgive me if I forget from time to time since apologists frequently assume their interests coincide.

That wasn’t the point, but nice try.

January 11, 2013 @ 10:53 am | Comment

Xilin
I am discussing human impulses and tendencies with the aim of highlighting that they are universal

Luckily, the universality of human impulses and tendencies are meaningless when we attempt to apply them on the geopolitical stage where clear boundaries and limitations are set by reality.

People around the world are all pretty good at butchering each other.

I don’t believe “pretty good” is precise enough for the sake of prognostics.

You haven’t provided any links to show that the Chinese have the lowest crime rates.

Sorry, sourcing is a two-way street. I will not bend to providing sources for common sense we are accepting your historical presumptions as if they are fact.

The example I have provided clearly shows a Chinese polity (the KMT) forcing its culture (political, nationalistic ideology, language etc.) on other peoples (the aboriginals).

The aboriginals were not “other peoples”, at least not in the way I specified. They were part of the same nation, fairly or not. Please note the relevance, as China is unlikely to repeat what happened in Taiwan with any other group of people.

But you have not refuted my claim, and I am not taking this one example out of context.

Yes, I have. Admittedly you almost got me on semantics, but considering that’s contingent on how one or two of my words are interpreted my argument still stands based on my prior elaboration.

That’s what the Vietnamese would say. You are illustrating my point for me.

Sorry, but you don’t speak for a whole loosely-affiliated agglomeration of peoples that all died over 500 years ago. Considering it was “a Vietnamese” who exhorted the Chinese expedition in the first place (which wasn’t really even a war, until “the Vietnamese” attacked a Chinese diplomatic mission essentially declaring war), this entire statement crumbles.

We don’t. I am merely trying to state that it is possible. Are you claiming that it is impossible?

Much to my advantage, I’m not one to argue in absolutes. I’d say instead that the chances are infinitesimal. See my last “clause” if you will, on the inability of the Chinese state to do so. Or do you propose containment and possible war in the slim chance of heading off such a possibility 1,000 years later?

I condemn all of them.

I doubt that. Go ahead and link me your long posting history, on this site or any other, in which you have made arguments against the Hispanicization of Basque country and I will eat my words.

I think I rest my case.

January 11, 2013 @ 11:04 am | Comment

Obviously that should be “that hamburgers and Lady Gaga have impact on US military bases”

Let’s move on to finer matters, though, and not muck up this thread. Richard, that’s a remarkable gift, and the rapidity with which it was produced is extraordinary. The style is in the manner of Chuci of the “nine songs” variety, I believe, which typically features the refrain word “xi” internally, a character to which is ascribed a musical intonation and a caesural function. This allows a trisyllabic form to be integrated into longer lines, which has fascinating correspondences to ancient Greek poetry. Such a form certainly lends itself more readily to orality and song (and, not incidentally, to memorization). Han Gaozu uses precisely the same form in “Dafeng ge”.

January 11, 2013 @ 11:10 am | Comment

@CM

You claim that Chinese people have the lowest crime rates in the world. I have politely asked you to provide evidence. I don’t think you have it.
If you would like me to provide any evidence for any of the claims that I have made, go ahead. I’ll provide one piece, and you can provide one piece. How’s that?

‘The aboriginals were not “other peoples”, at least not in the way I specified.’

How were aboriginal tribes of Taiwan not other peoples? Culturally, genetically, linguistically? Or are you saying that by expanding a nations borders to encompass ‘other peoples’, they cease to be ‘other peoples’ and become ‘subjects’ and then the government of the day can do what they want with them? This sounds familiar, and I’m pretty sure that other powers have done this before.

‘Much to my advantage, I’m not one to argue in absolutes. I’d say instead that the chances are infinitesimal.’

We are agreed. It is possible.

January 11, 2013 @ 11:29 am | Comment

At what point do we call a truce? Or does this go on ad infinitum?

Sometimes I wonder why I even have comments on my blog. For the first few months after I started TPD ten years ago I didn’t offer comments. Life was more enjoyable then.

January 11, 2013 @ 11:45 am | Comment

Xilin
Or are you saying that by expanding a nations borders to encompass ‘other peoples’

I’m not going to argue in principle, but for the sake of your point, yes. Modern China has no ability to expand its borders efficiently, so we can write off the possibility of the ROC’s policies repeating.

As for Chinese crime rates, China, Singapore, HK, Macau and Taiwan have low crime rates. As I said before Taiwan is only one region and its population should be weighted. Likewise wherever Chinese minorities are they commit the least or near the least crime, with the exception of Japan.

But enough with semantics, when I mentioned this I had Europeans (and possibly Arabs, as they’re another possible “great power” alternative) in mind – yes, Chinese people certainly do commit crime at a far lower rate than either of these groups. This is common knowledge.

Richard
At what point do we call a truce?

SK Cheung is the only one that blathers on and on about nothing.

January 11, 2013 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

@Richard – It is remarkable given this blog’s supposed “anti-China” slant that Cookie, Clock, and Zhubajie are among this blog’s top commenters (in number terms that is, not popularity or quality of comment).

January 11, 2013 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

I come back to look at the drawing and calligraphy again. It is really good, considering the short time it was prepared as a gift to express his thanks and appreciation. I am learning a lot from other commentators on the art and background story to this emperor’s horse, thanks. Just want to mention, I immediately thought of Qi Baishi and some horse paintings I saw of his as a child. I understand now, what sets an artwork apart from others. It is the 氣度 – magnanimity is the closest I can find as a word for it, but there is so much more.

January 12, 2013 @ 2:40 am | Comment

@Handler I have always loved the sound of “xi” in songs like this. It does add a rhythm and a flow to it.

The emperor’s horse is of the Ferghana breed (大宛馬), imported from Central Asia. By the way, Hong Kong people have a great love for horses also, so much so that some pride in owning a BMW, referred to as “precious horse” in Chinese. Cheers! Have a nice day.

January 12, 2013 @ 2:58 am | Comment

天馬來兮從西極,經萬里兮歸有德。承靈威兮降外國,涉流沙兮四夷服。

[The] heavenly horses came from the western extremes,
they crossed 10,000 miles to come to the virtuous.
Now they bear [my] heavenly mandates to defeat foreign nations,
fording quicksands [we] pacify all barbarians.

If you do wish to make a modern analogy, it would be a talking to from the powers on high, to implore the SOEs to import technology to equip China’s industries to better compete in the world economy.

January 12, 2013 @ 3:55 am | Comment

I nearly threw up my lunch reading this:

http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2013/01/11/japans-coin-experience

The Japanese Imperialist Army had a poor reputation for counterinsurgency (COIN) in both theory and practice. In China, it is best known for perpetrating the Rape of Nanking, one of the worst atrocities committed against a civilian population in the 20th century (although it clearly faces stiff competition). When Chinese civilians provided some material aid to American air men who landed in China after executing the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, the Japanese army retaliated by killing as many as 250,000 Chinese civilians. The notorious Unit 731 tested chemical and biological weapons on Chinese civilians during the war.

Japanese policies helped alienate potentially cooperative anti-colonialists in Malaya, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and elsewhere.In Malaya, Japanese soldiers with a limited understanding of Islam attempted to force Muslims to pray towards Tokyo instead of Mecca. While the Japanese Army had some success in the DEI and along the Indian border, the overall impression is of an organization with little capacity for and far less interest in counter-insurgency policy.

However, in a chapter in the recent volume Hybrid Warfare, retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) Lieutenant General Noboru Yamaguchi argues that the Japanese Army took COIN theory far more seriously than is commonly believed. Yamaguchi argues that the Japanese Army identified Communist Chinese guerillas as the central threat in North China, largely because of its feared that these formations could threaten Kwantung Army logistics during a war with the Soviet Union.

The author equates Japanese wartime atrocities with ‘poor COIN practice’. That’s a bit like equating the Holocaust with ‘poor social engineering practices’. It’s articles like this that make the Diplomat read like Stormfront.org.

January 12, 2013 @ 4:04 am | Comment

Down-turn Abe put on his clown suit, pomped up his hair with gel, and declared pompously as only a Japanese male can, that the Senkaku Islands are “nonnegotiable.” There is nothing to talk about. And in the same breath, he demanded that China must not do anything to harm Japanese business interests.

Or else??

It was not that long ago, that the surrender of Japan was “out of the question”. and that the Japanese would rather kill themselves than surrender. And at gunpoint the Japanese convinced the Ryokyo people to “suicide” themselves before the Yanks came. Then the rest was history. Japan surrendered unconditionally, and even the short emperor abdicated. It was only with the service of a million Japanese hookers to sate the conqueror Yank troops, that the JP PM bought the chrysanthemum throne back from MacArthur.

It was not that long ago.

I am counting on the people-initiated boycott of all things JP to continue. The Yen is already at 89.5. War breaks out, there is no telling where it’d go. 300? 500? You know what a Yen put would reap if the Yen goes to just 160 (just at today’s prices)? Making money on the Japanese stupidity is doubly satisfying.

January 12, 2013 @ 6:23 am | Comment

@CM

Using the word ‘lowest’ when you can only prove ‘low’ is not a question of semantics, but rather intellectual honesty. I completely agree that Chinese people have low crime rates. They do not, however, have the lowest.

I would respect the fact that you have altered your stance to reflect the facts, but then you claim that Chinese people commit crime at a far lower rate than Europeans and Arabs? And the only evidence you use to support this is: ‘this is common knowledge’ (argumentum ad populum). You may find it interesting to compare the intentional homicide rates (since we are discussing a tendency towards aggression) of China and Western Europe. They are the same!

I rest my case.

@Richard. I’ve found it quite interesting conversing with CM, but I think we are done now.

January 12, 2013 @ 8:50 am | Comment

@Sadenshi

Are you aware reconstructions of phonetics suggest the character “xi” was pronounced like “a” as in father in ancient Chinese?

BTW, I think the key word in this poem is 归。The term does not indicate to merely “come”, but to return, as in the sense in which one belongs. It is etymologically believed to be related to 回. Used in conjuction with 西极, this is a pretty bold claim. We might further note that apparently the term 归 was used in the similar manner of return and belonging in relation to marriage.

If you like the rhythm, might I suggest exploring Greek trimeters as well? There is a very lively debate in Classical Studies over the integration of trimeters and hexameters, and it’s not just a formal concern–it impinges on content.

@t_co

“The author equates Japanese wartime atrocities with ‘poor COIN practice’. That’s a bit like equating the Holocaust with ‘poor social engineering practices’. It’s articles like this that make the Diplomat read like Stormfront.org.”

Neither comparison you make is adequate. The Holocaust’s sole design was the segregation and systematic destruction of an entire people, planned and executed by all levels of government and society, while the author is commenting on the Japanese army’s hideous overreaction, mindless slaughter, and lack of awareness in response to elements opposed to its occupation. Since the Japanese had large numbers of Chinese citizens fighting on its side and intended to make its occupation permanent, this was, in fact, poor COIN practice. It was also atrocious, as the author clearly states.

January 12, 2013 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Xilin
Intellectual honesty
Considering it was only a tangential point I didn’t put many clarifications or qualifications on the claim. It should have been obvious, considering the argument (who is more prone to crime: Euros or Chinese?), what those were. Likewise, consider the obvious ramifications of wealth and income on crime rates, which is something anyone who knows anything about crime rates or sociology should know. But I have enjoyed saying my piece on the inherent, ingrained, historically-proven sociopathic leanings of European society, so I didn’t stop you from trying to score points.

Western Europe.
I fully expected you to excise Eastern Europe, and you did not disappoint. Last I checked, Eastern Europe is in Europe.

European are inherently more prone to murder and steal. Even though China has perhaps 1/5th the per capita net worth of Western Europeans they commit roughly the same number of HOMICIDES, but FAR LESS assault, forcible rape, arson, molestation, etc … as per Interpol. Valiant effort, I will give you credit for pulling all the expected cards in the only play you could have made.

January 12, 2013 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Nice horse! Pity about the thread.

January 12, 2013 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

I’m not a big fan of the picture. The right leg could never be at that angle and the last left leg is too big. My mother, herself an artist, taught me to draw and was always quite a stickler for these things.

@CM

I mentioned western Europe because it was these countries that plundered, conquered, crushed, killed and enslaved on such a horrific scale. But today,they have the same rate of intentional homicide as China. The statistics show that western Europeans are no more inherently prone to kill than the Chinese. If you want to look at the historical record, see the top five in the wiki page on total deaths by war, three of them are Chinese.

January 12, 2013 @ 1:43 pm | Comment

Take the drawing for what it is — a sketch on a cocktail napkin created in 180 seconds. Sorry you don’t like it. I say it’s awesome.

January 12, 2013 @ 1:44 pm | Comment

Thanks Atticus. Yes, a shame about the thread.

This article is sure to bolster China’s quest for soft power. Incredible; read to the end to get just how shocking the story is.

January 12, 2013 @ 2:11 pm | Comment

An unsurprising conclusion to a sad story. But you can guarantee that had these reporters kicked the snot out of some provincial official, the cameras would have been filming.

What upsets most about this story is that people such as Chen Weihua, editor of China Daily USA is free to snark, spew and snarl at anything he likes in America – and he frequently does. He enjoys a level of freedom in the US that is not accorded to anyone in China, he has the ability to write as he pleases about whatever he pleases. And he very, very clearly enjoys that privilege.

January 12, 2013 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

I like Australia.

I am free, I have a good job. I get paid very well. I can say what I want, write what I want and get about my life with the knowledge that I am protected by rule of law.

My children will grow up in a clean environment where I don’t have to worry about food contamination or child abduction. My child will get a great education (and free if it’s a public school) (free uni too , government have HECS and austudy) ,free health care, superannuation or pension if needed.

I lived in China for ten years and I enjoyed it. But when I compare the two, especially taking into consideration a family, Australia wins, no competition. That’s just my opinion. Not fact. I personally enjoy Australia a lot more. And my wife (Chinese) holds that opinion more strongly than I do. She never wants to go back. When I mention her family, she says, she’ll pay for them to come here.

I would say a lot of Chinese agree with me, that’s why they make up almost 8% of the population here.

And the beer’s better. That one’s a fact not opinion. :)

January 12, 2013 @ 6:04 pm | Comment

Xilin
I mentioned western Europe because it was these countries that plundered, conquered, crushed, killed and enslaved on such a horrific scale.

Russia is no slouch on that front. The point is, you’re very closely related in terms of genetics and culture. Western Europe’s homicide rates are mildly depressed (well not really if you count coalition wars and certain major nations like the UK) because of wealth and income. Are you seriously trying to imply that China’s crime rates will not continue to decrease as living standards rise?

If you want to look at the historical record, see the top five in the wiki page on total deaths by war, three of them are Chinese.

Most of the deaths which resulted from a breakdown of social order, and/or were caused by foreign invasion/insurrections. Which of course ignores the fact that Europe was in constant conflict with tens of millions of casualties spread out over time. That line of thinking would lead one to believe places like Colombia and South Africa are crime-free, non-violent societies, given that they don’t have a spot on the charts.

January 13, 2013 @ 1:18 am | Comment

and like I said, the rates for rape/theft/robbery and especially serious assault are astronomically higher even in places like Germany and Spain than in China.

January 13, 2013 @ 1:18 am | Comment

Chinese are a superior race. Descended from god like our emperor. We must know and accept this.

Now if you see a dirty yangguizi, dob him in. He will naturally cheat you, rob you and steal your children! Don’t even let him peddle his wares on your street. He is what they call in their barbaric tongue a ‘Scheister’.

It’s not their fault. It’s evolution. They are an inferior race. Like dogs. We should seek them out wherever they may hide and exterminate them, be it a petty gang or a city of 300,000!

Beware the yangguizi! Long live the Han race!

January 13, 2013 @ 1:57 am | Comment

Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing.

January 13, 2013 @ 1:58 am | Comment

Was it too strong? No?

January 13, 2013 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Heaven forbid.

I think it’s deranged, but we’re all entitled to our opinions. You aren’t Mongol Warrior by any chance?

January 13, 2013 @ 2:00 am | Comment

@Xilin/#40

If you want to look at the historical record, see the top five in the wiki page on total deaths by war, three of them are Chinese.

These war death numbers can be way off, and I wouldn’t draw any conclusions just yet. For instance, the Iraqi war had happened right in front of us in the last decade. You have death figures ranging from low 100k to 1.2 million. If we get the death figure of a very recent event off by a factor of 10, imagine the accuracy of death estimates in wars 100s or even 1000+ years ago.

There are 2 types of methodologies in estimating death figures. One is by adding up all the known and reasonably known death figures, which in the case of the Iraqi war came out as some 100K; the other is by demographic projection, which came out as high as 1.2 million. The demographic projection number likely is way over-counted for some good reasons: 1. the accuracy of the demographic data especially the data after the war was started can be dubious; 2. refuges, and those who had hidden from the authority would be counted as deaths.

Only because historically China had meticulously kept voluminous records including national and regional populations, such war death estimations can be even had to begin with, unlike in most other places, most of the times. On top of it, China has always been populous, which tends to skew the total death number when there was a systemic failure.

A common line often uttered is that Mao killed more Chinese during the GLF than the Japanese did in the WW2. People don’t seem to realize the former (deaths attributed to Mao) was all based on demographic projection up to about 20 years ago, which for a host of reasons can be over-counted by a factor of at least 10.

A curious coincidence is that at 1.2 million deaths, it constitutes of 5.4% of the pre-war Iraqi population; at 5.4% of the Chinese population in 1958, it would be 35 million. 30 million was once a breath-taking height first reached by Judith Banister after she used some strange methodologies to revise the official Chinese demographic data. However lately it’s free for all, and demographic data be damned. The latest inflated number that I know of is at 50 million. Well between 50 million and 650 million, i.e. Mao killed all Chinese in the GLF, there should be enough room to publish more books and garner more grants for more propaganda research.

January 13, 2013 @ 3:26 am | Comment

@ohwhatafeeling. Mr Toyota slogan.

While is is hard to disagree with your facts, I have the very definite feeling that you are one of those smug ….. who will be driving around on Australia day with those silly bloody national flags flying from the roof.

Obnoxious display of smug chauvinism.

All those things you mentioned didn’t magically appear. They were products of political processes over time.

In fact, you sound so smug you have to be an American.

January 13, 2013 @ 4:13 am | Comment

Your utter failure to understand his blatant “satire” proves some of my points. ohwhatafeeling is your typical entitled white male in Asia who is angry that he isn’t being treated like a god. Short version.

January 13, 2013 @ 5:19 am | Comment

@Handler

Neither comparison you make is adequate. The Holocaust’s sole design was the segregation and systematic destruction of an entire people, planned and executed by all levels of government and society, while the author is commenting on the Japanese army’s hideous overreaction, mindless slaughter, and lack of awareness in response to elements opposed to its occupation. Since the Japanese had large numbers of Chinese citizens fighting on its side and intended to make its occupation permanent, this was, in fact, poor COIN practice. It was also atrocious, as the author clearly states.

First, you fail to realize the Holocaust was more than just an ethnically charged slaughter. The Holocaust was a cold-blooded attempt to depopulate entire countries (Poland, Ukraine, Western Russia) to increase the amount of raw materials and farmland–lebensraum–available to a Grossdeutschland. Six of the twelve million deaths from the Holocaust were tied to those policies.

Second, you fail to realize Japan wanted to completely “Japan-ify” Korea and China during its period of occupation, and viewed China and Korea merely as resource zones to be pacified and cleared of people in a way not unlike the Nazis.

Third, by divorcing the discussion of COIN practice from its underlying immoral ends, the author completely misses the point–COIN never works if pursued for an immoral end, and it should not work. By selectively omitting those ends, the author is first being selectively illogical, and second, whitewashing a guilt that Japan should bear until it fully dismantles the Japanese Navy, Chrysanthemum Throne, and Yasukuni Shrine, and other institutions and symbols of its immoral, imperialist, and genocidal ambitions.

January 13, 2013 @ 5:59 am | Comment

t_co, you are wrong about what the Holocaust was, and seem to be conflating it with with other German programs. Wikipedia correctly defines it as:

the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout German-occupied territory.[3][4] Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed.[5] Over one million Jewish children were killed in the Holocaust, as were approximately two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men.

The Holocaust was an ethnically-charged slaughter. It had nothing to do with minerals or oil or land. It was enforced with ferocity in France and all other Nazi-conquered geographies where it offered no resources or economic benefits at all, and indeed it took a big chunk of the German economy to facilitate the Holocaust, resources that became increasingly precious as the war dragged on, costing the Germans far more than it gave back. The Holocaust as a term refers specifically to the slaughter of the Jews, and for no rational reason other than their being Jews. It does not refer to the 12 million deaths of all those who were slaughtered in the camps or by death squads, but to the approximately 6 million Jews. Repeat, from Wikipedia, the Holocaust “was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II.”

January 13, 2013 @ 7:17 am | Comment

@Jxie, I appreciate that the figures can be way off. That wiki list is actually ranked according to the lowest estimate. Cookie was claiming that the Chinese are less inclined to murder. The historical record does not support this.

@CM, good to see you are no longer claiming that western Europeans are more predisposed to murder than the Chinese.
The historical record just shows, obviously, that as bloody wars were going on else where around the world, they were also going on in China. I think we are done.

January 13, 2013 @ 9:00 am | Comment

Xilin
@CM, good to see you are no longer claiming that western Europeans are more predisposed to murder than the Chinese.

Nope. They are certainly more predisposed to crime. You meant to say “some Western European countries have lower homicide rates than China”. I highly doubt this is true of a weighted average but I’ll let you off the hook.

The historical record just shows, obviously, that as bloody wars were going on else where around the world, they were also going on in China. I think we are done.

See jxie’s post on why this statement is nonsense. Yes, you are done.

January 13, 2013 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

Cookie monster and King tubby

Wow. Settle pettle.

I said I live in a Australia and I like Australia. I enjoy it more than China.

Didn’t know that offended you so much.

Sorry to inform you my hardworking bloggers but I can’t fit into your stereotypes and prejudices but points for imagination.

Short version of king tubby and cookie monster replies:

Americans are smug, Australians are ignorant bogans and white males in Asia are entitled twats with god complexes.

That’s why I can’t take you guys seriously.

“People get the governments they deserve” – Thomas Jefferson

Richard – Pardon the humour but the article was tongue in cheek. Just wanted to show the end of that slippery slope.

January 13, 2013 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

That drawing is quite pretty.

I love the immediacy and lively feeling of Chinese art. A lot of traditional western art I’ve seen lacks that sort of feeling.

Like how a Chinese character can’t be partially rubbed out or edited. It must be written from start to finish in one movement, no editing. Like a live music show. You’ll only ever get one like it.

The fact it’s on a napkin demonstrates that essence really well.

January 13, 2013 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

@CM,

‘I highly doubt this is true’

I have referred to the data on intentional homicide several times. Check out the wiki page (list of countries by intentional homicide rate). The average rates for China and western Europe are the same (1.0).

By ‘nonsense’ do you refute the fact that bloody wars were going on in China when they

January 14, 2013 @ 8:25 am | Comment

…..Were going on else where around the world?

January 14, 2013 @ 8:27 am | Comment

@Mr Toyota slogan.

I wrote. “All those things you mentioned didn’t magically appear. They were products of political processes over time”.

Yes, people do get the government they deserve.

We probably have very close postcodes.

However, if you drive your unthinking rah rah nationalism through my suburb, I will set the dogs on you.

January 14, 2013 @ 5:03 pm | Comment

Wow. First personal attacks. Now threats. Over the internet? Was your intention to scare me?

Intelligent comments usually don’t include these aforementioned debating techniques. As you know, that’s usually bogan territory.

I like Australia more also for my kids + basic facts about Australia = unthinking nationalism?

Here, I’ll put it up again

“I like Australia.”

“I lived in China for ten years and I enjoyed it. But when I compare the two, especially taking into consideration a family, Australia wins, no competition. That’s just my opinion.”

I’ll reword it for you to make it easier>

~ My wife and I lived in China for a long time, got to know it very well and I liked it, but now we have a family, we like living in Australia more, mainly for the sake of our kids. ~

There. You can lay that straw man down. He’s tired and it’s 49 degrees out there. :)

January 14, 2013 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

BTW I’m vehemently critical of my government and you don’t have to hate your country to be critical of it. Recognise what’s good about it. Recognise what’s wrong with it. In a weird way I learnt that from China.

I’d love to rant about how much I hate how the government screws things up here and how so many Australians just roll over and take it but it’s best not to get me started and this isn’t Canberra duck.

And I can’t say I really care about your opinion of me either but I do agree with your quote-

“All those things you mentioned didn’t magically appear. They were products of political processes over time.”

My quote was in agreeance with yours. People make those processes happen through making themselves heard.

Maybe if I was single I would probably still be in China. I made a lot of friends and good memories there and I did enjoy my job. But alas I’m not, hence I’m here in Ozlandia.

I’m sorry I’m not the guy you want to be angry with. He’s living in Punchbowl on welfare with his second de facto wife and 7 kids.

Seriously, chill out mate. :)

January 14, 2013 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

I’m sending this thread to Thread Heaven. Thanks for participating, and special thanks to all who shared their knowledge of the Han horse.

January 16, 2013 @ 7:58 am | Comment

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