Guest Post by Jeffrey

Jeffrey, a frequent commenter who lives in China, sent me the following post. I made no edits except to remove the Chinese characters (which came across in the email as squiggly lines). Thanks for this, Jeffrey!

University of Science and Technology, China (USTC)- One source of democracy for modern china

University of Science and Technology, China is a university founded in 1958. In the 50s, because of fear of possible attack from USSR and USA, the communist china realized that they should have their own powerful defense weapons. So the massive weapons including atom bomb and hydrogen bomb came into their sight. In order to develop these weapons and the man-made satellites (satellite is a sign to encourage common Chinese people), the communist china needs the necessary technology and researchers badly. To meet up with this need, President Mao and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai decided to establish one university specializing on those advanced technologies. In 1959, USTC(University of science and technology, China) was founded. Its first principal is one of Chinas most-famous scientist-Guo Mouruo.

From its founding to today, this university has been educating many top scientists for china. We can get this conclusion by the many statistics. For example, there are more than 40 CAS members (CAS represents China Academy of Science, a top science academy in mainland china, almost all of most respectable Chinese scientists are its member) from USTC, almost two times as another top chinese university-Peking University and slightly exceeds that of Tsinghua University; this university also is the biggest producer of highest IF papers and biggest science achievements. These are incredible achievement for this university because it is much smaller than its Chinese rivals and usually it receives much less government financial supporting.

This is not the point what i am going to advocate. The most incredible side of this university is, even this university is a college specializing in science and technology and having not any humane studies, it plays an important role in modern China, especially for from 1980s to the mid of 1990s.

At the beginning of 1980s, when Deng Xiao Ping started to implement his reformation policy, all of western thoughts was flooding to china. Including the conception of democracy and freedom, was assimilated by those most fashionable scholars and students. One of them is Fang Lizhi.

Actually Fang is not only a principal of USTC, but also a CCP member. He is one of the top astrophysicists in that time. Because he is a CCP member, he knew those defects and shortcomings of CCP. He started to reform his university by undertaking a “non-CCP” reformation in USTC. This reformation includes following:

1. No politic lessons would be taught in the class unless the student demands it;

2. Promote students’ position and encourage students criticizing university management team and government;

3. Drum for freedom of speech and freedom of thoughts and democracy; try to minimize the government’s influence on the university;

4. Go to other universities and advocate freedom/democracy;

At that time, almost every students of USTC were in favor of him and his bold remarks of democracy. And encouraged and inspired by Fang, those students also went outside for advocating the conception of democracy which learnt from Fang. This tide is becoming stronger and stronger, and, eventually, leads to the student unrest which occurred in 1986.

In 1986, because the student unrest is out of CCP’s control, DengXiaoPing decided to expel Fang from CCP and gave him a new job in Peking (in Peking, Fang should be easier to monitor). Although Fang was deprived of his freedom and be under house confinement, he was still influencing his beloved students to struggle for more democracy. In 1989, after Tiananmen Square massacre, with Bush’s help, Fang finally got his freedom in New World.

Another well-known scholar is Wen Yuankai. He also was a scientist advocating democracy in USTC.

In the 1980s, two principals of USTC was forced to exile aboard because of political persecution. One is Fang, and another is Guan Weiyan. Guan Weiyan died of one traffic accident in Taiwan, he had never allowed to return to mainland since 1989.

Also in the 1980s, the most rapid era of revolution on Chinese thoughts, USTC is the landmark of democracy pursuing in modern Chinese history. It does not only lead the tidy to awaken common Chinese conscience on democracy and freedom, but also act as a role of preacher to spread the conception of democracy. After 1980s, USTC lost CCP’s favor and be the target of persecution in most aspects, the public funding, the government help, etc. The CCP had assigned two several members(Peng Peiyuan, Ten ten) to this university and begin the organizational suppress. Even though, most USTC students are still remembering their ex-principals’ ideals. As I knew, one graduate working for New York Human Right won one respectable prize for his prominent contribution on human rights last year. And, I had visited this university one time, and was touched deeply by their freed environment and democratic atmosphere. This kind of democratic/free sentiment is rarely felt in current Chinese university. Some USTC students told me frankly that they’d like “Not to talk about politic” because they have no feelings towards abnormal political surrounding. The graduates from this Chinese top university are rarely engaged in Chinese ruling team. And till now, no USTC graduate was found guilty because of corruption or other crimes.

It’s very weird that one science & tech university, not a comprehensive university like Peking University, acted as the leading role to pursuing, to teaching Chinese the conception of democracy and finally stir up the democracy event of 1989. But it left much for us carefully thinking.


Why? What for?

An article, excerpted over at First Draft:
President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush personally awarded a Purple Heart to a former Idaho high school track star who lost both his legs in an explosion in Iraq.

Marine Cpl. Travis Greene, who graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1999 and was given a track scholarship to Boise State University, received the medal last week at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he is being treated.


[Cpl. Greene’s father] said nurses adjusted his son’s pain medication before the president’s visit.

“They turned down Travis’ medicine so he could be awake,” Terry Greene said in a phone interview with The Times-News of Twin Falls.


Travis Greene has had more than 100 blood transfusions since being wounded in Iraq.

“He’s had surgeries every other day and it’s taken a toll on the man,” Terry Greene said. “He’s had emergency surgery twice at his bedside because he was too unstable to move. The doctors tell us he is the most critical patient on the intensive care unit. He’s a fighter. He’s getting through these things, but it’s taken its toll.”

Terry Greene said his son is still on a ventilator and will probably have to go on dialysis soon because of the strain on his kidneys.

The 24-year-old, in his third tour of duty in Iraq, was part of a team of Marines who on Dec. 7 were evacuating other Marines who had been injured in an explosion. During that effort, a second explosion occurred. Three other Marines and one Navy corpsman also lost one or both of their legs in the blast. Two were badly burned.


The Greenes said it’s difficult to see their athlete son without legs in a hospital bed.

“You sit here day after day and you go in and see him and it’s kind of depressing,” Sue Greene said. “We have our moments. When the doctors talk pretty frank to you, it’s a hard pill to swallow.”


“Dongxi a dud”

Some of you may remember a post back in October about a new Chinese magazine, Dongxi, that was seeking submissions from writers. After receiving this email from a reader (and a friend) I regret that I ever gave them free advertising.

I’m writing to the 3 of you to let you know that after a series of emails regarding publishing my poetry in Dongxi, the new literary journal that convinced the 3 of you and who knows who else to help support their launch on your respective blogs, Dongxi, who “bought” 4 of my poems, has sent me neither the money they promised nor copies of the first issue, which they announced in a broadcast email, had been published.

I don’t blame you; had they contacted me to promote their launch, I would have done as you did. I just thought I’d let you know. I’m disappointed, but it’s hardly a major loss, except perhaps in trust and confidence in the literary endeavor they floated.

I’ve emailed inquiries to them of course, but they’ve gone unanswered.

Thought you’d like to know, but maybe you’d guessed as much.

Several of you raised questions about Dongxi in the comments of the old post, and it looks like the skeptics were right. Dongxi editors, if you’re reading this, here’s your chance to redeem yourselves or face the eternal scorn and wrath of disillusionsed Peking Duck readers.


When Chinese peasants try to sue the state….

…they usually can’t even get their cases acknolwedged. In fact, they can’t even get their cases formally rejected, because that would give them grounds for appeal. Joseph Kahn brings us yet another uplifting story on China’s legal system.

No, no, the clerk said, shaking his head and waving his hands, as the peasants recalled it. They were wasting his time and theirs. But as they withdrew, their legal papers remained on his desk in plain sight. Maybe, the peasants hoped, that meant the clerk had tacitly accepted their application to sue.

“In two years of trying every option under the law, this was a moment of optimism,” said Li Huitang, a leader of peasant resistance in Shiqiao, a village in Hebei Province, in northern China. “We hoped he might rule on our request.”

Even a written rejection would have been a bonanza, enabling them to appeal to a higher court. But it was not to be. The clerk soon called Mr. Li’s home, ordering him to retrieve the documents. When Mr. Li declined, the clerk mailed them back in a plain manila envelope, unmarked, unprocessed and officially ignored.

China’s legal system often hands down verdicts that the powerless consider unfair. But a bigger problem is that courts often refuse to issue any verdict at all – or even acknowledge that some bothersome legal complaints exist.

The English translation is simply “put on the record” or “register a case,” but in China “li’an” is so fraught with official meddling that for many with complaints against the government, the judicial system is closed for business.

Another long, torturous article about the misery of the disenfranchised peasant and the “every-man-for-himself” mentality that has turned China into a hellhole for those lacking clout. If you’re looking for something to fume about for the rest of the night, read it all.



An innocuous-sounding euphemism, a “rendition” is the act of kidnapping a person on the street and whisking them off to God-knows-where so they can be tortured questioned. It’s the kind of thing I’d expect to read about in Peron’s Aregntina or Kim’s North Korea. But 911 changed everything, and now, as we all know, the US is doing it, too.

The CIA’s independent watchdog is investigating fewer than 10 cases where terror suspects may have been mistakenly swept away to foreign countries by the spy agency, a figure lower than published reports but enough to raise some concerns.

After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
President Bush gave the CIA authority to conduct the now-controversial operations, called “renditions,” and permitted the agency to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or other administration offices.

The highly classified practice involves grabbing terror suspects off the street of one country and flying them to their home country or another where they are wanted for a crime or questioning.

Some 100 to 150 people have been snatched up since 9/11. Government officials say the action is reserved for those considered by the CIA to be the most serious terror suspects.

Bush has said that these transfers to other countries — with assurances the terror suspects won’t be tortured — are a way to protect the United States and its allies from attack. “That was the charge we have been given,” he said in March.

At least we’re investigating it. But really, this notion of Presidential Infallibility has got to stop. How can we blast North Korea for kidnapping Japanese sunbathers and shipping them to Pyonyang to teach Japanese? And yes, I know we’re kidnapping “suspected terrorists,” but there’s a reason we have legal processes, to protect the innocent. But since when have we cared about that?

Imagine being the family member of an innocent man swept off to some gulag to be tortured for…nothing? And we just shrug and mumble, “Well, sometimes mistakes are made.” It’s so unreal, so un-American, so…so…so Bush.


Chinese debate Mao’s legacy online

Considering that just 30 years ago they might have been shot for criticizing Mao, I’m glad to see at least some Chinese netizens are willing to acknowledge him as the Prince of Darkness he was. [Link requires a subscription, so I’m including the whole thing.]

On the 112th anniversary of his birth, debate raged online yesterday about how Mao Zedong , revered by some as a great leader and condemned by others as an evil man, should be remembered.

Those firmly in the late chairman’s camp suggested Mao’s birthday on December 26 was “Christmas for Chinese people” because he saved the nation and laid the foundation for its development.

Family members, including his grandson Mao Xinyu , visited the helmsman’s mausoleum in central Beijing yesterday. On Sunday night, a cultural show was held in the capital to mark the anniversary. In Mao’s home town of Shaoshan in Hunan province , an arts museum dedicated to the late leader was said to be on the local government’s agenda.

In one chat room, a contributor called Zhang Shandi drew attention to Mao’s spiritual qualities, including his strength of character to fight the nation’s enemies and his ambition to be the country’s leader despite his humble background.

He said Mao had the courage to lead his followers through many battles and the wisdom to apply theory to China’s reality.

But another writer, San Feng, listed Mao’s “crimes against the Chinese nation”, describing the literary inquisitions, famine and destruction of cultural legacy he inspired as the “most dreadful in Chinese history”.

The writer also accused Mao of double standards for living a “capitalist life” with a villa and private swimming pool while calling himself the “leader of the proletariat”.

Many people expressed admiration for the lack of corruption of the Mao era compared with today.

“There is one thing for sure, there was little corruption in the era of Mao Zedong,” one wrote.

The leaders who came after Mao did not have his discipline, another wrote, and they did not prevent corruption from taking root. “Corruption and all the bad things accumulated and spread to every part of society,” the contributor said.

One writer praised Mao for always thinking for the common people: “There was more fairness and justice than [after] the reform and openness … there was not such a severe disparity like today.”

Academic Zhou Hongling , from the Beijing New Era Citizen Education Centre, said such comparisons were one-sided.

“A society full of corruption certainly is not better than a clean one, but it’s necessary to take a look at the background and process of the outcome,” he said. “A lack of corruption was in part the result of a highly centralised administration and was only temporary. Also, although there was apparent social equality in that era, people lost many basic human rights.

“We’d rather have a society where there is some disorder but more freedom.

“The current disarray is not the end of social transition, but a process. China is in the transition from a centrally controlled society to one with freedom and order.”

Yeah, and so is Iraq. In both cases, I’ll believe it when I see it.

In any case, the fact that there could even be such a debate is rather mind-boggling. Of course China is better off than it was under Mao. Of course there’s more freedom. Mao was a murdering monster who bled his country dry and sucked the brains out of his people’s skulls. How can there be any debate as to his virtues?


The Academy

This is great news. I’ve been looking for a good Marxist Academy, and now I know just where to go.

China opens Marxism academy

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), or China’s top think tank, founded a Marxism academy here Monday.

Liu Yunshan, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said at the inaugural of the academy that new advances should be made in Marxist theories in tandem with economic and social development at the modern times.

The CPC Central Committee attaches great importance to ideological building and earnestly pushes forward researches on important theories and practical issues, said Liu, who is also the head of the CPC Central Committee Publicity Department.

The scholars need to deeply study the Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought and Deng Xiaoping’s works, Liu said.

Yes, that’s exactly what scholars need to do, deeply study the works of the three men who brought the world unparalleled peace, prosperity and joy: Marx, Lenin and Mao.

Via CDT.


A dam in Yunnan

Jim Yardley of the NYT has a mammoth article on the Chinese government’s breaking its own laws to push through its plans to dam the Nu river in Yunnan province. This time, there’s a lot of pushback from peasants, intellectuals, environmentalists and celebrities, and if the government backs down due to public participation it will definitely be a landmark. It’s a great article, with the usual cast of characters: the laws that are ignored, the greedy officials in bed with state-owned enterprises, the courageous activists, the media blackout, the peasants in tears as the government threatens to wipe out their livelihoods, and the glimmer of hope — maybe this time the people will triumph and a bad project will be canned. If it isn’t, it will be a real tragedy. Another one.


Taiwanese Food

Taiwan Food.JPG

One of the great images from Graham Greene’s great book The Quiet American is that of anti-hero Alden Pyle spreading vegemite on crackers to avoid eating the spicy local food.

While not nearly as unadventurous as Pyle, I have to admit I’m particular about what I eat. I like to know what it is I am eating and how it was prepared. I don’t like food swimming in oil. I don’t like food that’s been sitting out for many hours uncovered. I don’t like food that’s been cooked long ago and then reheated. (I know, I’m prissy about what I eat. What can I do?)

Taiwan isn’t the ideal place for finnicky eaters. There’s cheap food in abundance here, but I have issues with a lot of it. The photo above is indicative of the inexpensive fast food you can buy on just about any street here, and at the night markets that seem to draw unending streams of young people looking for bargains. The food is pre-cooked (mainly deep fried) and often undefinable, i.e., your guess is as good as mine as to whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral.

As I walk by these stands, I am frequently assaulted by the stench of food cooking in deep-fat fryers, in oil that apparently hasn’t been changed in months. There are also bubbling cauldrons of soup, huge vats that are often adorned with chunks of overcooked tofu swimming on top. I’m willing to try new things, so I once ordered a bowl. I won’t be trying it again anytime soon.

Defining what Taiwanese food is seems to be nearly impossible. I can describe to you what Beijing food is (same with Shanghai food and Cantonese food and Sichuan food), but I can’t describe Taiwanese food, except to say it seems to be an odd mish-mash with no distinctive flavor that sets it apart.

I’ve lived in a lot of places now, and usually don’t have problems with the local food. I have some problems here in Taipei. There were so many cheap restaurants in Beijing that I loved. In Singapore, I’d go to these little stands where they’d grill fresh stingray served on banana leaf – incredibly delicious. In Hong Kong, I could order cheap roast duck or barbecue pork just about anywhere. I know there must be similar places here, but so far they’re eluding me. Here, all of the budget food seems to be pre-cooked and deep-fried. Or cooked in huge communal troughs.

I’ve had some great meals in Taiwan, including the best dumplings I’ve had anywhere. It’s only the inexpensive local food that gets me depressed. Could it be that I’m just looking in the wrong places? I live near the university, Shi Da, and the entire area seems to be wall-to-wall food stands offering near-identical fare. I’m willing to keep an open mind and to consider the possibility that Taiwanese food is wonderful. Where should I go for proof?



China Daily runs a surprisingly good article (from Beijing Review) on coming out in China, complete with a mini-dictionary of Chinese gay terminology. A good job (if predictably rosy in its outlook). Now, when will they un-ban the gay cultural festival?

Thanks to the reader who sent me the link.