Mooncake Thread, part 2

The thread must go on.

The Discussion: 81 Comments

Unbelievable: Michelle Malkin actually gets it, and accuses our Codpiece in Chief of blatant and unforgivable cronyism. Maybe there’s hope.

September 21, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment


may i have a suggestion to you? it would be great if you collect all taiwan posts under one file and make a link on the left side, soemthing like the “china-japan forum” thread at the teahouse.

September 21, 2005 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Everytime I read the phrase “Codpiece-in-Chief”, I think of a codfish biting GW’s…..oh never mind…..

September 21, 2005 @ 3:30 am | Comment

Ivan, I’m sure it withered away long ago from all that coke and alcohol.

Bingfeng, I don’t have time now. Will consider, thanks.

September 21, 2005 @ 3:33 am | Comment

Oh wait, it wasn’t a codfish. It was Condi Rice. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

September 21, 2005 @ 3:36 am | Comment


I just noticed something. Whenever you next have the time, you can take down the “Back in the USA” sign from the map on the homepage. You can also add ‘Taipei’! Cool.

September 21, 2005 @ 5:26 am | Comment

Martyn, you’re right, I should change it, but it’s not so easy. That was put up by the site designer and I’ll have to fork over money for her to redo it. So I’m gonna hold off for now.

September 21, 2005 @ 5:45 am | Comment

I can imagine some deranged Chinese Nationalist suspecting that Richard’s “Back in the USA” is part of a Hegemonist Plot to make Taiwan part of America.

September 21, 2005 @ 5:51 am | Comment

You mean it isn’t an evil anti-China US plot Ivan?!

Richard, oh I see. I thought it would just take a couple of clicks of a mouse.

Plenty to do then…when you have the time.

Sorry to pile it on but bingfeng’s categories idea is a good one as there’s so much good stuff buried in the archives – but a huge job unfortunately.

September 21, 2005 @ 6:04 am | Comment

I just read a new China website – at least new to me – Beijing Lives:

“We are a multinational team of people…(Chinese, American, Canadian and hopefully more soon)…working together to build the best website available about life in Beijing.”

Perhaps Steve would be able to come on here and tell us a little more about the site?

September 21, 2005 @ 6:29 am | Comment

I beat him to it, I’m afraid. I’ve been meaning to post about his site for a while – thanks for reminding me, Martyn.

September 21, 2005 @ 7:15 am | Comment

I noticed sekimore designed this site, she did a great job but I’ve got quotes from her and her prices are through the roof, I admire anyone devoted enough to there site to put so much money in to it but man.. to make the changes you are talking about, I guessing would cost me far too much to consider, but your right, I don’t think that image can be altered, you would have to get a new one, she does great work though.

I had some bugs on my site, which I think I fixed, I asked her to fix them, she told it would be at least $300, and her web design prices have really gone up over the years now pushing $1000 with all thing taken into account.

But like I said she does do great work.

September 21, 2005 @ 8:14 am | Comment

$1,000?? I think I paid her about $350 for the entire design(though I honestly don’t remember). She charged me $50 to put up the “Back in the USA” artwork. Site designers are a dime a dozen nowadays, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good one. Email me if you want a recommendation.

September 21, 2005 @ 8:25 am | Comment

China however, is making a great effort to control the price of mooncakes. It is said that the average price of mooncakes in beijing has fallen to 7rmb per one. And the goverment is tackling illegal mooncakes associated with bribery and corruption. But you can still sense the traffic grows much heavier in beijing around moon festival and national days. Somedays around these times when i peaked through a car which has the lisence of another province i can see hundreds of packs of mooncakes sitting at the back of the car, waiting to visit the homes of different leaders.

September 21, 2005 @ 10:50 am | Comment

Richard, it’s only fair to point out that cronyism runs rampant through both political parties. So she was an Assistant DA in Brooklyn for two years. I wonder if she had passed the bar? John Kennedy Jr. was hired as an Assistant DA in NYC before he ever passed the Bar, and it took him six tries to do it. Meanwhile, he was collecting all that pay for valuable services rendered.

September 22, 2005 @ 12:11 am | Comment

Richard – I used Sekimori and was pretty happy with the design but not so happy with some of the programming.

If you’ve got a decent web designer I’d be interested in your recommendations as I’ve got a few bits that need fixing.

September 22, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment


Even if someone is hired for the position of “Assistant DA” in any American state, s/he still cannot actually practice law, ie cannot appear in courts as a prosecutor – unless and until he is admitted to the Bar.

What does happen, rather frequently, is that fresh graduates will be hired right out of law school to work in a DA’s office – but they do not actually practice law until they pass the Bar. They will do other office work – like researching cases and drafting various documents, like paralegals do – until they are admitted to the Bar.

And then, typically there is a raise in salary AFTER they are admitted to the Bar. So, yes John Kennedy Jr was paid for working in the DA’s office before he passed the Bar – but he did not actually prcctice law in the courts at that time – and he probably earned a lesser salary until he passed the Bar (unless NYC has a different pay scheme than most DA offices in the country…)

Also, entry level Assistant DAs – even in NYC – are paid very low salaries. Kennedy wasn’t making his fortune in the DA’s office, it would have been peanuts to him.

September 22, 2005 @ 1:26 am | Comment

PS, about passing the Bar exam:

It’s both easy and hard. It’s easy for anyone with an IQ of over 110 or so, as long as they’re good at rote memorization and taking multiple choice tests. But it can be hard for anyone who is test-shy, anyone who freezes up on long, grueling, strictly timed examinations.

Also, some Ivy League law schools actually have lower rates of Bar Exam success than less prestigious law schools do. There are a number of reasons for this – part of it might be because the Ivy Leaguers are overly confident – but also, at the other extreme, some of the best lawyers are the ones who take a long time to think…..

….and if you take too much time to think during the Bar exam, you will lose time, and possibly fail. So, failing the Bar Exam can mean a number of things. It could mean that you just don’t know the answers, but it could also mean that you are a slow and careful analytical thinker who considers MANY sides of a problem.

Abraham Lincoln never went to Law School, and never took a Bar Exam. But sometimes I wonder if he would have failed the Bar Exam a few times, because of the careful analytical turn of his mind……..

September 22, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Why no discussion of the Li Ao saga? Certainly it is a great case study in the battle for control of China’s media.

September 22, 2005 @ 6:38 am | Comment

I agree with you dylan. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen much talk of it anywhere.

I think I’d do a quick post about it.

By the way, can anyone help with a transation of the word 机电.

As in a company name:

Guangzhou Chuandi 机电 Science & Technology Co. Ltd.

September 22, 2005 @ 7:01 am | Comment

广州chuandi机电 科技有限公司

September 22, 2005 @ 7:06 am | Comment

new report illustrates Burma starving it’s own people

September 22, 2005 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

Just so everyone knows, I still don’t have broadband at home and cannot keep up with breaking news like the Li Ao story (thanks Martyn, incredible work in so little time). I don’t expect to get up to speed for some days yet, with bursts of posts when I find free time at work (only on coffee breaks and lunch, of course) and big blocks of silence in between.

For those who requested web designer info, I am contacting my source for this and will get back to you.

Jerome Keating has responded to Jing, Bingfeng and others in the thread below and explains what he was trying accomplish.

There are so many good threads going on. I wish I didn’t have to work today.

September 22, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

The only English results I can get in a Google search of company names is “Machinery and Electronics.” Don’t know if that’ll be any help. That would sure make the company’s name a lot longer in English than in chinese.

September 23, 2005 @ 12:18 am | Comment

I do have a serious question for Ivan–I don’t know if that may seem like an oxymoron, but here goes.

Ivan in a previous thread you were going on about the fighting capability of the Russian soldier. I don’t want to get into a discussion of which country produces the best soldiers etc. but after travelling in Russian last June and visiting war monuments among other things.

I could not help but be amazed at the high casualty rate of the Russians vs. the Germans; in some instances I think it was, like 10 to 1.

I am not questioning the valor or loyalty of the soldiers but my immediate reaction is to question their leadership and strategy. In some of my writings, I have stated the Russians have “too deep a heart, and are too easily led.” What is your thought on Russian military generals and strategists?

By the way, despite its age, I think the Aurora is still one sleek ship.

September 23, 2005 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Whatever happened to the idea that civil service was for the best qualified, and not for political plums? My first bar exam was three days of essay, written in Spanish. My second was the Massachusetts Bar in 1978. I passed it despite being trained as a “civilian” outside the common law tradition. My next job was training Somoza’s commandos in patrolling and ranger operations. After that, I was a bilingual social (i.e., welfare) worker in Mass. And after that, I was out on the street practicing criminal law. I did all of that in less time than it took John John and his ilk to pass a bar exam that they should have made on the first try, all the time occupying a position that I was far better qualified to fill. I’m a political independent, but I’ll get high and righteous about Bush’s cronyism when I see the Democrats abandon their own.

September 23, 2005 @ 2:11 am | Comment

Democrats are good, God-fearing people. Republicans, on the other hand, suck mightily, at least the current crop in Washington. Where there is politics there is cronyism, always, everywhere. The difference now is the in-you-face shamelessness of it and the sheer scale, with no-bid contracts for parties intimately tied to the elite White House core and an almost gleeful willingness to sneer at even the pretence of ethical behavior. The revolving door from bush official to well-heeled lobbyist spins nonstop. This is an old tradition, but Bush’s people have elevated it to a dizzying new height, and I predict a lot of Americans are going to get fed up with it sooner than a lot of us think.

Somoza? Dear me.

September 23, 2005 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Hurricane Rita is fast approaching, and it appears that Texas is f*cked — literally.

September 23, 2005 @ 2:55 am | Comment

Hm, notice that I don’t tell lirelou anything about any of my personal experiences with Bar Exams, or with Law.

lirelou, you DO go on a lot about your qualifications. Hmmm…..

…and we all know how scrupulous Somoza was, about the Rule of Law…
about as scrupulous as the SS….

September 23, 2005 @ 3:27 am | Comment

Democrats are good, God-fearing people. Republicans, on the other hand, suck mightily

No, Democrats are Tweedledum, Republicans are Tweedledee, and the only difference is different corporate sponsors.

My god, it’s a sad day when I find myself agreeing with Ralph Nader…

September 23, 2005 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Thanks Kevin, I think I’ll go with ‘electronics’. The company actually make component poarts for computers, TVs and the like. I also told them to drop the ‘science and tech’ from their English name.

Thanks again.

September 23, 2005 @ 7:09 am | Comment

Open thread, right? This is the best explanation of George Bush’s strategy I’ve ever seen. It all makes sense now.

September 23, 2005 @ 12:02 pm | Comment

Ivan, I just saw this great quote on Shenzhen Ren and thought you might like it as well:

“For centuries, philosophers and poets have tried to understand what happiness is, and what might contribute to it. In recent decades, scientists have started to come up with the answers. Happiness is electrical activity in the left front part of the brain, and it comes from getting married, getting friends, getting rich, and avoiding communism.”

Johan Norberg

September 23, 2005 @ 10:05 pm | Comment


DAMN IT! You made me spit coffee all over my screen.

So I was wrong all along. I always thought happiness was “getting some.”

September 23, 2005 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

I really think Richard should change this to the Martyn Blog.

He has become quite the prolific poster.

September 24, 2005 @ 3:49 am | Comment

It’s only because I have been travelling and did not get broadband installed until an hour ago. Also, as I transition into my new job, I need to keep posting to a minimum. Martyn is doing me a huge favor, keeping this site humming and writing about new issues I normally wouldn’t cover. He’s definitely hyperactive, which is fine by me.

September 24, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

More interesting commentary of Zoellick’s remarks about China can be found here.

September 24, 2005 @ 6:05 am | Comment

You are welcome to come visit my blog which is related to Plot and comment on that.

September 24, 2005 @ 7:35 am | Comment

I very much like the saying that “stability overrides everything”, because that is a saying with a lot of engineering sense. In engineering, whether in an Electrical System, a Mechanical System, the topic most discussed about in modern engineering is the topic of stability. The fundamental question that concerns every engineer is how to reduce unpredictablility and maintain stability in a system. God knows how many electrical engineering masters thesis have been written on the design of “noise-reducing” circuits, here “noise” means any unwanted and unpredictable fluctuations in the operation of a circuit. The same pursuit for stability is seen in mechanics. Excuse me for not going into too much detail about stability in engineering, as that involves high level mathematics, especially differential equations.

From this engineering mindset, words like “dem0cracy” and “fr3edom” are disliked because they are so ambiguous. If you look at human society as a natural progression of history, I don’t believe there are such things as “dem0cracy” or “freed0m”. There’s only management and economics. In other words, whether a society is “good” or “bad”, depends only on whether the management of that society is effecive and stable. Whether the economy of that society is developing. If the management and economy of a society are successful. Then this society is “good”. In other words, we should call a society with a stable management and a rapid economic growth as a “democratic” and “free” society? Why can’t we do that?

I very much dislike a fascist country, because a hitler-style, fascist country has a very unstable management. How can you call Nazi Germany stable when it caused a world war! Also, the Hitler regime was very short, and there was not an effective procedure for succession after Hitler’s death, this again is evidence that a hitler-style society is a bad society.

Now, let’s talk about the Chinese Communist Party. I believe the most important thing that CCP did (or Deng Xiaoping did) was maintaining stability. Furthermore, I believe the most important thing Deng did was what he did in 1989. Of course no one claims that that thing was the most important of his life. Deng himself did not want to talk about it, and the CCP is also rather ashamed to mention it. I believe the CCP does not need to appear so shameful on that thing. Like many Rightists like to say, the CCP is good at brainwashing, but after 1989, it seems to have lost its brainwashing drive because itself felt it was wrong in doing that thing. I believe the CCP should feel proud of that thing, and make it part of Deng’s legacy and its own legacy. It is a mistake for the government to spent so much time touting economic reform and shy away from the events 1989 which lead to decades of stability.

Now you may ask, what about economic reforms? Are they not important? Of course they are important. But I don’t think they are not as important as stability. My advice to the CCP is to put stability before economic reform, and slow down or even stop the reform if it conflicts with stability. In fact, it is entirely possible that the economic reform initiated by Deng was a mistake, and that China is worse off today because of the economic reform and opening-up. But that is the topic for another essay.

The word “reform” is also a bad word from an engineering point of view. I very much dislike that word, just as I dislike the words “dem0cracy” and “fr3edom”. But stability is a word I very much like. If there’s a patient and the doctor does not know exactly what is wrong with him/her, don’t you think it’s best to stabilize the patient first instead of starting a big operation?

September 24, 2005 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Ladies and Gentlemen, the silky smooth semantic stylings of…. Simple Worker, off his new album, “A (Social) Engineering Point of View”!

In other words, whether a society is “good” or “bad”, depends only on whether the management of that society is effecive and stable. Whether the economy of that society is developing. If the management and economy of a society are successful. Then this society is “good”. In other words, we should call a society with a stable management and a rapid economic growth as a “democratic” and “free” society? Why can’t we do that?

Big Brother said:


Why can’t we do that, Simple Worker? Because, having economic growth and stability are not the only elements of a “good” society, and that’s not the definition of a “free” society.

A free society accords certain rights. The right to freedom of expression would be a good one. Now let’s run with that; if a government has good economic growth and executes people who say “I don’t like this government very much” because the mere thought of it threatens “stability”, can we call that good?

In a liberal democracy, people can express their opinion. In a tyranny, people are punished for independent thought.

Tell me, Simple Worker, how do you feel about having to spell freedom with a 3?

September 24, 2005 @ 12:39 pm | Comment

I think we should very much treat life as an engineering project. Things are very clear-cut. Things that didn’t fit our view of “stability” can be purged. Like certain forms of art and the artists that make them, gay people, gypsies, jews, protestants, etc.

Or maybe we could go with the Crusades version instead of the Nazi version. Jews, Muslims, etc.

Or we could go with the North Korean version – we’ll get rid of adjustable transitor radios, various forms of art and expression, and close our borders to the world, save to a few governments.

Or maybe we could go with the early North American settlers and extinguish 10,000 different languages along with the savages that were taking up the land given to us by Providence and the King of England.

Good Heavens, I do believe that ANYTHING that offends my sensibilities should be abolished. It’s just too troublesome.

September 24, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

You see you see, now you are just using extreme examples and dramatic language to make points. Extreme cases may be correct in theory, but using those to “embarrass” and gain a rhetorical upperhand in arguments is not very civic and does not help in any rational arguments.

September 24, 2005 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

Simple Worker, I’m still not sure if you’re serious or joking. You really believe the Tianamen Square “incident” should be looked on as a primary success of the Deng legacy? Despite the unnecessary bloodshed, and the resulting fallout that haunts China to this day? (Trust me, more people around the world recognize “Tank Man” than they do Jiang Zemin, for example.)

As for your stability bullshit: Perhaps the world’s most stable nation between 1933 and 1942 was Nazi Germany. To see just how idiotic your equating stability/economic growth with proof of a good and beneficial system, check out this post I once wrote specifically to quash this myth.

You sound like a bot put out by the CCP to regurgitate the “stability” talking point. Just ask yourself what the cost of China’s stability is. It goes even deeper than Dave’s excellent examples, and includes absence of rule of law, a stable but ultimately catastrophic courruption machine that props up the party, and a lot of horrific suffering and no way to seek redress. Stability in itself is not the goal. That can always be accomplished by sheer force and terror, in which case it is a symptom of barbarism, repression and insecurity. Are those thing things you think China should stand for?

September 24, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

Extremism is what happens when we refuse to accept that life is complex and start using simplistic social engineering concepts taken from engineers too happy to apply mathematics and differential equations to the overly complex situations that we have to deal with in society.

I understand that stability, as it is seen in a controlled and homogeneous sense, is important to the Chinese leaders, and I understand why. I also basically agree that China has too many problems and too messy a past to be seriously entertaining ideas of democracy and a more laissez-faire approach to society. But I firmly believe that there is a requirement for basic flexibility in dealing with society, and although that’s not to say that all concepts of social engineering, and unidirectional forces, are dangerous, it IS to say that basically one has to admit the complexity of life before we can make positive change on the world. What China is doing is keeping one thing fixed (certain facets of society’s ability to find outlets of expression for itself) while moving another part – the economics. This seems to me to be a very mechanical view of society. And it seems to be wrong, given the 70,000 economic-based protests so far this year.

The key is that there are always compensating effects. Buddhism, Taoism, quantum theory, Protein Engineering (see below) and lots of other modes of thought admit this – they admit that everything is affected by everything else. But you can’t really think your way through it. It’s too complex. this is why I think artists are so important. artists and creators are, I think, the ones that are able to synthesize and process really complex amounts of information in ways that scientists can’t. Of course, what is produced is also generally non-mathematical etc. but the point is that there is a way of processing very complex information – societal information, aesthetic information, verbal information etc. that the brain can perform, that can’t be performed with mathematics and computer simulations at the moment. probably, I predict, because the brain is not binary and therefore much more sensitive and powerful a computer than computers. A perfect example of this is what I’ve been watching recently, Wong Kar-Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” – which tells the story so perfectly it’s rediculous. He has an intuition for it. This means that his brain

Governance of nations is very tricky. On the one hand, democracy ensures some level of accountability. But it means that those geniuses of government are often social geniuses – charmers. Autocracies on the other hand, have no accountability and thus are often prone to thinking they can act unilaterally without resistance.

If you REALLY want to talk about stability engineering, forget electrical engineering and try something more organic. Like what I do – Protein Engineering. Ironically, I do “stability engineering” of proteins, and let me tell you, the complexity and compensatory effects in the Gibbs Free Energy of mutated proteins is really beautiful. It probably is mathematically predictable on some level, but we can’t do it now, not with real systems. It’s like life. It’s complex, not totally unpredictable, but you have to take one thing as a given: that everything affects everything else, and that there are compensatory effects. In a push for stability, we find that those elements natural to the society that are adverse to a totally static system (and these may very well be extremely benefical elements – artists, creators, etc.) push back, and push for dynamism.

And with this, I’m going back to my experiments. Peace out.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

forgive my hanging paragraphs. you get the picture. artists compute on higher levels etc. by intuition. simplistic formulaiec easy to understand engineering is deceptive and dangerous. Biophysics is calling me.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

also, I meant compensating, not compensatory. It’s 3.30 am, forgive me.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

Of course, I do not think that stability is a goal in itself, just like I don’t think dem0cracy is a goal in itself. I think the ultimate goal of running a nation is bring welfare to its citizens (high standard of living, feeling happy, etc.) In an economic sense, maximizing the utillities of citizens. If that goal can be achieved by giving a lot of fre3d0m of speech and having multi-party elections, then great. If that goal can be achieved by arresting some dissidents and censoring the press, then it is also fine.

Now, that does not mean that I support military regimes like North Korea. Why? Because in North Korea, the majority of citizens are starving, people hear nothing but words of Kim Jung Il, and there are very very limited number of products on the market for citizens, etc. All of those things do not contribute to the welfare and utilities of citizens. Thus, North Korea is not a good society.

China is I think a pretty good society in terms of giving citizens high utilities and welfare. It may still lag behind the USA and rich Western nations, but I think it has surpassed the entire Africa, surpassed all Latin America countries (just 15 years ago, it was still behind Latin American countries), etc. I think it is on the same level as Portugal, or maybe Spain.

To be more concrete, if you think you can do better in life than 60% of people, then which country do u prefer to be a “60 percentile citizen” of ? If you think you do better than only 30% of the people, then which country do you prefer to be a “30 percentile citizen” of? And make a ranking of your “preferred-to-live-in” countries, and that’s how “good” a country is.

For example, for my, I think I can do better than 55% of all people, so here’s my ranking of countries which I want to live in as a 55 percentile citizen:

South Korea

North Korea

September 24, 2005 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

And if you think about which country has moved up that ranking the fastest within the last 15-20 years, I definitely think it is China.

So to be even more concrete, one criterion we can use to judge whether a country is “good” or “not” is to see where that country ranks on that list, and how fast each country moves on that list.

September 24, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Thank you for completely disregarding everything I wrote. It’s nice to be under-appreciated. Deflates my massive sense of self-worth and lets me fit through doors again.

Have you been to Spain? I noticed you continue to use an engineer’s mind to look at the world, listing everything and defining some derivative of position to rank “goodness”. Have you passed your 20th birthday yet?

My, but I’m getting snipey. Must be because it’s 4.30 am. I’m off to bed.

September 24, 2005 @ 9:35 pm | Comment


But by your reckoning, Jaoan is the greatest country in the world: Because Japan rose up from being completely ruined in 1945, to having the third largest economy in the world today.

So by your mathematical standard, Japan is FAR better than China.

September 24, 2005 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

Also, SW, one essential reason why China was able to rise so high and so quickly after Mao died in 1976, is simply because, well, Mao died in 1976 and he stopped destroying the country.

China’s “rise” since the death of Mao, has been more like a recovery from all of the destruction which Mao did to the country. It’s not so hard to rise up from nothing. And climbing out of a shit-hole is a very basic accomplishment.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

That is a fair point. China progressed so much in two decades because the shackles of a failed socialsit system as well as Mao meglomania were lifted from the country.

That is all we hear “China’s incredible rise”, “Oh how well China has done” etc. It’s rubbish. The country moved forward because of what it stopped doing not because of what it did.

We will see how well China does in the next stage of it’s rise.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Yes, perhaps Japan IS better than China given its quick rise and prosperity.

But I disagree with your “Mao” statements. When Mao took over China, China had WW2 and the Civil War, there was NOTHING in the country. China did not even have the industrial capacity to produce a nail (literally).

But from 1949-1979, China wiped out diseases, wiped out prositution, wiped out local gangs, built railroads, built freight ships, built satellites, built nuclear bombs, created the Simplified Chinese , drove Americans out of Korea, and gained its seat on the UN. Mao certainly made many disasters in life, but you cannot deny that he laid out the industrial and structural foundations that allowed the reforms under Deng to succeed. Without the years of Mao, the economic reforms would not even be possible.

If you interview Chinese people today, I believe most of them (around 60%) will have a “net positive” view on Mao. Typically the assessment is that Mao was 70% positive and 30% negative for China.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

There was nothing in the country in 1949 because Mao did his upmost (with Soviet money) to destroy the country and stand back while the Nationalists and Japanese hacked each other to pieces.

Perhaps if Mao had spent more time fighting the Japanese there might have been a bit more left in 1949.

1949? Ensured China would remain poor for 40 years. Some achievement.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

And there are so so so many countries that were/are in much worse state than 1949’s China, did most of them grow as fast as China, or at all? By your logic, if you “let the shackles” out of the people, then every country, no matter how poor a state it is in, can and will enjoy amazing growth and prosperity no matter what? If so, then why do we even need economists or gov’t policies, just “let the shackles” out of the people and see them grow! What is this? Magic?

September 24, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

I think some of you have this very complex and subtle feeling towards China.

It’s like China used to be this rusty and poor family on the block, its husband does not have stable job, its wife is homeless, its child is failing in school and doing drugs, and they are frequent arguments in the family, and the family cannot afford anything nice, and its house is a shithole. While your family is doing very well, you are living in a very nice house, has a very beautiful wife, have kids who go to Harvard. So back then, you never think about that poor family, and don’t mind it so much cause it does not really threaten you in anyway, it is rather “remote” to you.

However, these days, that poor family’s husband found a nice job, her wife is going to community college to start a career, the kid quit drugs and is no longer failing in schools, but getting C’s and B’s, and once even got an A! And the family moved to a slightly bigger house, and they don’t argue anymore, and they are making a lot of friends in the neighborhood, and basically everything is doing well for them. And yesterday, for the first time, that family was picked to host the community picnic, a prestige that used to be exclusively your family’s! And on the picnic, that family got rave reviews and people are spending more time chatting with them than you! And yesterday you discovered that the family bought a house in your upscale neighborhood and their kid is applying to Harvard!

Now in public, you put on a very nice smile and say to them “John, you are doing well”. But in your heart, you feel so weird, so strange, so ambivalent, and sometimes annoyed. “How can such shitty immigrant family be doing so well! Now they are driving nice cars and are making friends here! What the hell are they doing here! They are supposed to be the low class of this city!” Slowly you start to console yourself “Oh, you know what, that family must be doing drugs! They are nouve-riche and have no class compared to us! So what if they drive a cadilac too, they look so stupid in it! Oh their kid is going to Harvard too? Well, that’s cause he’s a minority, puh!!”. And then you say to yourself “Ah! See? They are still pretty shitty after all, there’s nothing to feel bad about.”

September 24, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

So, SW, you think most of us here think Chinese people are “shitty”? You’re an intersting case.

September 24, 2005 @ 11:54 pm | Comment


Oh my! You’re right! You knew EXACTLY what I was thinking!

You have magic powers! You can read minds!

September 24, 2005 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

richard, of course you do not think Chinese people individually are shitty. But in your psychology deep down, you think China is a “shitty” country and should remain so. Perhaps “shitty” is a wrong word, the correct word is “low-level” country and should always be subordinated. You cannot stand one day if China starts to make the rules in the world instead of USA. Of course that does not mean you “hate” China, or even dislike it, but you cannot really stand to see it getting stronger and richer and more prosperous, and you are forced subconsciously to “explain” China’s rise, and we get these canards like “China’s quick rise is only because it used to be so poor”, “China still has so much pollution, so its rise cannot sustain itself”, “China is only doing so well because it has so much cheap labor.”. In fact, i would not be surprised if you wanted to add “Puh!” to the of each of that “explanations”. Let me summarize it for you, for every positive thing in China, you come up with a negative explanation for it. Let me ask you, how is that possible, even statistically speaking, that every positive thing in China is from a negative cause? I mean even by Chance, there could be something positive the gov’t did, right!?!?!??!

I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional again, I’m am so disgusted so sick of some of these comments on these blogs. I used to very much dislike the CCP (even ‘hate’ it), but people like you are making me liking the CCP more. Maybe you are well-intentioned, if that’s the case, I’m sorry. But it just feels like many of you just absolutely love to see China crash and burn and then say “See! I told you!”

September 25, 2005 @ 12:02 am | Comment

Ivan!!!! Why don’t you make some sensible comments instead of writing these “witty” sayings!!!!! To me, writing these “witty” responses it’s a shield when you lack words to respond. It’s no different than saying “whatever.”

I’m just, i’m sorry, but I just.. I mean as a Chinese, I know my gov’t has a lot and lot of problems! But I am seeing its improvements, Chinese people’s lives are getting better fast, are they not?!! I mean according to you guys, CHina would have collapsed long time ago!!! What will you say if China sustains its growth for the next 30 years again! What will you say if Hu Jintao rehabilitates 6/4 in the future? Will you be a man enough to say “Ok, good job.” Or will you have more sour responses and “explanations” ?????

September 25, 2005 @ 12:07 am | Comment

richard, of course you do not think Chinese people individually are
shitty. But in your psychology deep down, you think China is a “shitty”
country and should remain so.

You are asking for trouble.

But it just feels like many of you just absolutely love to see China crash and burn and then say “See! I told you!”

You show me one comment that implies such a thing. One. On the other hand, I’d love to see the CCP melt away (not crash and buren, necessarily). The fact that you say Mao was a “net plus” for China and that Deng should be lionized for the way he handled Tiananmen Square tells me you are a dangerous and reckless guy. Keep it up.

Last word of advice: Please don’t come on here and attack this site and its commenters, whatever their position. Disagree and argue if you want. But don’t come here and attack your host and fellow commenters.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:08 am | Comment

SW said:

“You cannot stand if one day China starts to make the rules in the world instead of USA.”

I’m trying to refrain from collapsing into a laughing fit and rupturing my stomach, while I reply:

1. Something like half of us non-Chinese on this site, are British or Canadian or Australian, or other nationalities other than American.
I can assure you that none of them would ever tolerate America making rules for any of them.

2. Personally I think it’s time for Russia to start making the rules in the world. America needs a break.
Let Russia take over for a while…the quality of vodka and movies will go up, the conversation will become more interesting, and the women will be easier……


September 25, 2005 @ 12:11 am | Comment

It’s perfectly OK to dislike the CCP and criticize it. I myself have posted many articles calling more transparency in China’s media and railed against many CCP policies. Recently the Li Ao visit to China also dissapointed me that the entire CHinese media did not dare to upload the full clip of his speeches, I said on forums “What are you afraid of, CCP?”

But those criticisms and constructive and healthy ones. Your criticisms and malicious and are not intended to improve anything. In a way, I respect those “overseas democracy” movements, because I genuinely believe some (not all) of them genuinly care about welfare of China and its people.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:11 am | Comment

What will you say if China sustains its growth for the next 30 years again! What will you say if Hu Jintao rehabilitates 6/4 in the future? Will you be a man enough to say “Ok, good job.” Or will you have more sour responses and explanations?

I have congratulated the CCP and praised it for its great strides many times on this site.If they sustain their growth, I will praise that, too. But I give them no great credit as strategists or engineers, and as long as there is a dark side to this econoimic miracle I’ll continue to point it out, along with the good. I lived there and worked there and I know how much of the miracle is built on sand. I also know how much of it is spectacular, namely the light manufacturing boom and the industriousness of the Chinese people in starting businesses and elevating their positions in life. I give the CCP literally zero (or at most minimal) credit for this, especially now that I am reading China Inc., which supports my long-held contention that the only thing the CCP did was become less atrocious, giving the people a bit of breathing space with Denbg’s reforms. Deng gave the people a quarter-inch, they grabbed 100 miles. The economic miracle was started by China’s lowliest disenfranchised peasants, who defied the government and set up illegal trade. When Deng saw how well it worked, they became national heroes, their model was imitated, and the Chinese people became a star in the ascendant, as they have wherever they have been given the freedom to run their own affairs. (And yes, I know it’s more complex than that, but I stand by the essential outline.)

Anyway, I suspect arguing with SW will be another exercise in deep futility.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:20 am | Comment

SW is displaying a common trait. Whether it be for cultural, historical or CCP education reasons, many Chinese people are obsessed with the suspicion that foreigners look down upon them and want nothing more than to ‘keep them down.’

I don’t know where it comes from but it exists.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:33 am | Comment

Your criticisms and malicious and are not intended to improve anything.

Which ones do you have in mind? And, by the way, it’s okay to point out something that’s bad even if you have no solution for improving it. It’s called discussion, exploration, sharing, inquiry, etc. I have virtually no idea how to make the Iraq War better, but I damn sure am not going to be silent about it.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:35 am | Comment

In furtherance of my suggestion (above) about Russia “making the rules for the world”, here are Ivan’s Ten Commandments for the New Russian World Order:

1. Have more. Whatever it is, just have more until you’re satiated.

2. Pretend to respect authority. It’s easier to keep anarchy that way.

3. There is no personal conflict which cannot be resolved through fighting until exhaustion and then hugging and praising each other.

4. Thou shalt not steal, because it’s a gift anyway.

5. Thou shalt not honor thy mother, because she’s not yet finished giving you orders. Just shut up and let her keep talking.

6. Honor thy father. Do not ask him how he got that tattoo with another man’s name on it when he was in the Army.

7. Politics is for people who aren’t clever enough to write good literature.

8. Thou being a Man, if thou doesn’t kiss other men, thou art a pansy.

9. Thou being a Woman, thou shalt enjoy great beauty until age 25 and then morph into a Polar Bear.

10. Disregard any of these commandments if an old woman at the front desk tells you to.

September 25, 2005 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Oh, heavens. I’ve come late to this debate and don’t wish to comment too extensively. But Simple Worker, “most people think Mao is 70% right and 30% wrong”? That is propaganda right from the CCP’s Officially Approved Historical Talking Points! That 70/30 percentage has been around since Deng Xiaoping – apparently these were the numbers considered safe by the CCP to both safeguard Mao’s legacy – and the CCP’s own historical legitimacy – and yet allow for some criticism of Mao’s excesses.

Come on, it’s just silly. Like you can really add up Mao’s legacy in neat little columns, plus and minus?

You can’t state a statistic like that, straight from the Party’s officially approved history, as if it is some kind of proven fact. If Chinese people are quoting these numbers, it’s just because they’ve been fed them ad nauseum.

September 25, 2005 @ 2:59 am | Comment

LOL that’s funny Ivan. Are you like this in real life? If so, then there must be a lot of very confused Chinese people round where you live!

September 25, 2005 @ 2:59 am | Comment


Am I like WHAT “in real life?” Not sure what you mean, but thanks for sharing the laughs. πŸ™‚

Seriously, if you were asking whether I clown around theatrically in “real life” (by which I guess you mean “outside of the internet”) then the answer depends on the situation.
Actually I’m pretty conservative in my manners, most of the time.

My persona in – um, in person – is pretty identical to what you see here on TPD. I do know how to be serious – but I don’t suffer fools gladly, and I think too much sobriety is a kind of psychosis….. πŸ™‚

September 25, 2005 @ 3:50 am | Comment


About Mao being 70 percent correct: If the CCP wants to be consistent in mathematizing Mao’s correctness, then through calculus we can say that Mao was ZERO percent correct. Here is how to calculate it:

1. The CCP determined that Mao was 70 percent correct.

2. But the CCP takes all of its authority, its claim to unchallengable authority, from Mao-Thought.

3. Therefore, the CCP’s calcuation of Mao’s 70 percent correctness, is based on Mao’s authority.

4. Since Mao was 70 percent correct, the CCP is only 70 percent correct about Mao being 70 percent correct.

5. Therefore, Mao was only 49 percent correct, because 70 percent factored by 70 percent equals 49 percent.

6. However, now that we know Mao was only 40 percent correct, we must correct it again by a factor of 70 percent. We must continue to correct both the CCP and Mao by a factor of 70 percent – according to the CCP’s own reasoning.

7. This circular calculation must go on ad infinitum – by the Party’s own reasoning – until, as in calculus, we can see that Mao was Zero percent correct, and 100 percent wrong.

September 25, 2005 @ 4:00 am | Comment

I think a lot of people in the west are so used to the cold war idea of communists being evil that they don’t think anything good could come out of a communist government.

I’m sure Richard could explain very well how he could “have congratulated the CCP and praised it for its great strides many times on this site” and give CCP zero credit at the same time, but he probably can’t sway that opinion in me after reading this site for a couple of months.

September 25, 2005 @ 7:23 am | Comment

Brain wondered:

(…) a common trait. Whether it be for cultural, historical or CCP education reasons, many Chinese people are obsessed with the suspicion that foreigners look down upon them and want nothing more than to ‘keep them down.’
I don’t know where it comes from but it exists.

Anyone who works with students or professionals about to head overseas is familiar with this suspicion, which is a very real concern for some. Similarly, some Chinese seem certain that when they’re in the west, they will be the targets of all sorts of terrible racism.

One Mandarin-fluent friend of mine who also deals with Chinese headed overseas, explained it to me this way: Some Chinese worry about this because that’s how they treat their economic inferiors, so they naturally assume that westerners will do the same to them.

I think that for many of the Chinese who have these fears, this is a factor in addition to those included in Brian’s list.

I’m sure as increasing numbers travel and study abroad, this suspicion will diminish. But as long as wealth is considered the primary indicator of status, some Chinese may fear being measured abroad by the same yardstick.

September 25, 2005 @ 7:48 am | Comment


I was born and raised in America during the Cold War, but I am part Russian AND I lived for some years in Russia in the 1990s.
Most of my friends (and relatives) in Russia are former Communists, or else they have close relations wit former Communists.

So, wawa, you are VERY mistaken if you think I cannot imagine anything good coming out of a Communist government.

I only wish that the Chinese Communists were REAL Communists, like my Russian friends and family!


The great pity about the Chinese “Communists”, is that they were never really Communists.
The Chinese “Communists” never really cared about socialism. China’s “Communists” have always been just Chinese Nationalists – kind of like the Nazis of Germany – and China’s “Communists” never cared believed in socialism. China’s “Communists” only believe in “China”, just like the horrible KMT.

I have great respect for all REAL Communists. And that is why I have very LITTLE respect for the fake “Communists” of China.

But I have great respect for all good Russian Communists, the REAL Communists!


September 25, 2005 @ 9:41 am | Comment

SW, I think your analysis of Westerners looking at China as the sort of bastard child nobody wants to anknowledge as ever succeeding is really funny, particularly because whenever I talk to Chinese who are strongly strongly patriotic and nationalistic they tend to espouse similar theories about the West. “Yes, the West may have all the money, all the education, all the advances, but we Chinese have history, and we were once the most advanced and will be again – you Westerners can’t even evacuate a small city of 4 million to get out of the way for a hurricane! Still the same barbarians after all.”

The fact is that both sides of any sort of conflict have the nasty habit of looking at the other side as being inferior for some reason. Westerners often quote Chinese human rights, Tiananmen etc. as justifying their superiority, and Chinese often use history and the greatness of the Han nation and it’s diligence and cleverness to justify theirs. They’re the same thing.

When you’ve already decided on something, justifying and proving it with statistics and tidbits of reality is really easy. So to some Westerners (hawks etc.) the PRC may be a backwards communist bastard-child of the world, but to hawks in China, the U.S.A is still a nation of simple, uncontrolled, aggressive barbarians. I think you’ll agree that it’s only when we move past these preconceptions that we are able to make good diplomatic progress. I think the REAL challenge is for me to fight Western preconceptions and for Chinese to fight Chinese preconceptions. It’s really easy to try to get the other side to see things your way, but harder to get your side to see things the other way. And yet, so much more progressive.

September 25, 2005 @ 9:48 am | Comment

On a more personal note – for any Yanks of a certain age, among us:

Today, “Butch” (Thomas Bond) of the “Little Rascals”, died of heart failure at age 79.

Rest in peace, Butch. May all American children of my generation meet with you and Darla and Alfalfa, in another world where everything is as innocent as America used to be….
…and may Butch and Alfalfa finally get together in a same-sex marriage, in the ideal American Heaven to come….

September 25, 2005 @ 10:07 am | Comment

I think Ivan is a great example to why Russia might be down today, but it certainly is not out.

I really hope there are more Ivan to remind Americans that their arch-enemy is really Russia, not China. πŸ˜›

September 25, 2005 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

Random musings:
Robert Kaplan has his new book out “Imperial Grunts”
FA magazine (sept/oct) has a number of articles on China.
I guess we are fortunate that the mayor of New Orleans actually listened to Admiral Keller and reveresed himself in allowing people to return to NO.
It seems at least some of the lessons of Katrina were taken to heart ..Bravo Texas!!!!

September 25, 2005 @ 3:55 pm | Comment

However, now that we know Mao was only 40 percent correct, we must correct it again by a factor of 70 percent. We must continue to correct both the CCP and Mao by a factor of 70 percent – according to the CCP’s own reasoning… until, as in calculus, we can see that Mao was Zero percent correct, and 100 percent wrong.

Ivan, that is the funniest s**t I’ve seen here in a long time. Except mathematically I think it would be asymptotically approaching zero, right?

But in your psychology deep down, you think China is a “shitty” country and should remain so.

I’m f**king sick and tired of people constantly saying that we single out China for criticism. I refuse to stand for the violation of peoples rights to free expression and the right to fair legal representation anywhere. Gitmo and US citizens being detained as “enemy combatants”? An abomination. Bush refusing to allow dissenting opinion into public forums on his campaign tour and outright lying, with little or no outcry from the public or press? Bordering on fascism. The U.S. government response to Katrina? Exposes a terrible flaw in the U.S. psyche, that we cannot possibly approach politics with a long-term perspective, but only in terms of short-term gain, leading us towards all but inevitable doom unless we get some shock to the system (one, apparently, much much bigger than Iraq + 2 hurricanes + ballooning deficit + increasingly less intelligent discourse). That shock will most likely have to be the end of our civilization as we know it. Have you read my blog? Go read the category I call “homefront”. It’s not very big, and it’s not very happy. There’s a reason I focus on China, dips**ts, it’s because I haven’t given up hope on it yet. I’m pretty much done with the U.S. – I’ve had it with this place. We think we’re stronger than we are. China has the opposite problem; you’re stronger than you think. It’s like seeing a bullied 13 year old in an 800 pound gorillas body. 5000 years? Act your age and suck up the criticism.

I get the impression alot of people in China feel they get singled out for criticism because they’ve a) not been able to criticize anything internally and b) there’s been this bulls**t line in Modern China about how much the foreigners are raping you up the a** (which is partly true) and that what had existed for 5000 years was suddenly not going to cut it anymore(which is bulls**t).

I quote, from Liang Qichao’s New Project for National History:

Now on the eastern continent there is located the largest of countries with the most fertile of territory, but the most corrupt of governments, and the most disorganized and weakest of peoples. No sooner had those races [from Europe] found out about our internal condition than they got their so-called national imperialism moving, just as swarms of ants attach themselves to what is rank and foul and as ten thousand arrows focus on a target. Β­If we want to oppose the national imperialism of the powers [effectively], rescue China from disaster and save our people, we have no choice but to adopt the policy of pushing our own nationalism. If we are serious about promoting nationalism in China, we have no option but to do it through the renewal of the people.

What a terrible way to start that paragraph! Defend yourself by all means, but to denigrate yourselves as the weakest of peoples? That’s some serious psychological damage. And then the May Fourth Movement pooped all over traditional China. And then Mao did it too. China has had an awful experience with modernity and pegged the whole thing on the foreigners who brought it. Yeah, so the British and the Germans and the Japanese (Johnny Come Latelies to modernity themselves) came and screwed things up. I’m sorry! But I had nothing to do with it! No one here did! And it’s not our fault that you had three successive sets of intellectuals who often said “well, if we’re gonna learn how to make and use these guns, we have to condemn our entire past for being backward, weak and feudal”. We didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, you did. And it’s not our fault that was the choice made, not once, not twice, but three times in Chinese modern history.

And wait – why am I saying “our” fault? There is no “we”, just like there is no “you”. As an American whose ancestors were almost entirely Irish refugees during the Famine, I don’t like being lumped into the category “westerner” with British people from 100 years ago. As a New Yorker who grew up within spitting distance of 9/11 and is sickened about how a very personal tragedy has been twisted and exploited by our leaders, I don’t like being put in the same category with Bush or, for that matter, practically all of Congress. Those people are crazy. Same as I don’t expect all Chinese people to believe Mao was 70% correct or that the above quote was a good idea. I don’t claim Chinese people agree with Hu Jintao or disagree – but I do claim that they aren’t even given that choice, at least not in public within their own country. And I stamp my feet and shout about that in every country that it happens, especially my own. Because people make those choices anyway, they have their own opinions because they are human beings and that’s what we do – and to repress such a basic function of living is a crime, regardless of whether it’s done in the name of “stability” or “democracy”.

That’s the whole point; we aren’t a “we”, and neither are Chinese people, and the sooner the discourse gets past that stage on both sides the sooner we can have a civil conversation without all this finger pointing.

Sorry for the cussing Richard but this s**t has got stop.

September 25, 2005 @ 4:02 pm | Comment

For the record, I did not ban SW, he simply seems to have disappeared. But then, what could he have said in response to Dave? Not much.

Dave, curse away – that is one of the most heartfelt comments this site’s ever had. I want to memorize it.

September 25, 2005 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

Time for a fresh thread, which will open up above in a minute.

September 25, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

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