Open thread

child in yunnan.jpg
A child plays with a bottle in a Yunnan village.

Play nice.

The Discussion: 111 Comments

Liu Zhengrong (2006):
“No one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said something on the Internet.”

Walter Ulbricht (1961):
“Nobody has the intention to build a wall.”

February 16, 2006 @ 4:35 am | Comment

Not to lower the tone or anything, but Zhang Hao is a hottie.

February 16, 2006 @ 11:47 am | Comment

His face is kinda fug. Nice muscles though.

February 16, 2006 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

Interesting article about how globalisation is changing the traditions of Shaolin monks, and how they now compare to the traditions and legends David Carradine brought back with him to the West…,,1710743,00.html

By the way, can anyone direct me to good info about how the CCP uses religion specifically to maintain its grip on Tibet? I found good sites, but nothing really on how Tibetan religion itself is used.

February 16, 2006 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

[Note from site keeper: This unsolicited essay is provided by “Math,” allegedly a nationalist Chinese male who often posts essays that are irrelevant to the discussion. Read at your own risk. Better still, skip it altogether. Good for some giggles, not much else.]

I Believe the CCP’s Monopoly of Power Is Totally Justified

The Chinese Communist Party (CPP)’s monopoly of power is justified. Why? Well, CPP spent an incredible amount of manpower and resources, sacrificed millions of lives in order to gain the power. That is totally different from the ways other government’s gained their power. The Bush Administration spent what, 5 Million US Dollars plus a few political strategists to gain control of the White House, that is a trivial price compared to the price the CPP paid to gain control of China.

Many of China’s revolutionary leaders had to risk their lives during their fight for power. Mao was arrested once, Liu Shaoqi was arrested three times, Zhou Enlai barely survived the nationwide communist hunt by the nationalists. During the Long March, an estimated 200,000 soldiers lost their lives.

With such a party, with such an army, with such a struggle, the CPP finally won the control of China. So of course their monopoly of power is jusfitied. One CCP senior official once said to Western journalist: “YOu want this regime? Show me the blood of a million men, and I’ll give it to you. Because that’s the price we paid for it.”

Now, we know that the CPP always use the phrase “for the people”. Well, guess what, they are just being polite. I never participated in the Communist revolution (because I wasn’t even born then), so I never experienced the hardships experienced by members of the CPP who fought for their power. So I fully respect their regime because they worked hard for it. If suddenly one day the CPP sent a representative to my house and told me, “here, you can take over this regime.”, I’ll be so embarrassed and I would surely refuse to accept the offer. How can I so lightly and easily accept something that others have worked their lives for.

According to liberal economics, all human resources should be privatized. Public ownership of things leads to inefficiency. Therefore, there needs to be an explicit statement regarding the CPP’s private ownership of Mainland China; that’s a step in the direction of true privatization. That’ll lead to huge efficiencies and lead China onto a path to greatness.

There indeed is much corruption inside the CPP. But the corruption is nothing but an internal transfer of wealth. For example, what difference does it make that a billion dollars goes into the pocket of a CPP official or into the construction of roads? It is their money. You cannot dictate others how they spend their money, can you?

Of course there’ll be people who says, “Democracy”. But even though democracy sounds so beautiful and romantic, it is immoral. Why would the CPP allow what is theirs to be open for discussion? I never allow other people to decide who can make love to my wife. The only person who can make love to my wife is me and me only! (Even when I think about swingers clubs, that is my choice and is not the choice of others….). And surely it’ll be illegal if someone tries to have sex with my wife without my permission. So, back to China, you bunch of poor, weak, undisciplined, pathetic “freedom activists” think you can get power by organzing rallies? Do you even understand what “no pain, no gain” means? How childish and ridiculous!

February 16, 2006 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

And if your wife decides she wants to sleep with someone else?


February 16, 2006 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

Obviously I support freedom of speech, but I’m not preventing this Madge-clone from starting his own CCP Man-Boy Association site. Why should tpd simply be used to host essays justifying totalitarian regimes for which no replies are offered and for which discussion considered. I live in China. I’m forced to breathe the polluted air of the CCP every day as they engage in self-congratulation and persecution of any that dare disagree.
I asked if anyone could give me info for a student’s extended essay at my school and, because of this copy and paste job, probably most will simply ignore it and scroll down as fast as they can.
I have plenty of essays glorifying everything the British Empire did for the world and how it dragged China up by the scruff of its neck into the modern age, and I am quite prepared to use them, regardless of whether or not any such topic has any relevance at all to tpd readers.

February 16, 2006 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Keir, if he really disrupts things with an excess of spam “essays” I’ll think about deleting. For now, his rantings only strengthen my own arguments and don’t harm anyone (ecept himself). Just skip them; I usually do.

February 16, 2006 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

Some of that Darwinist-Nazi stuff in his last rant could have been lifted straight out of Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph Of The Will”

February 16, 2006 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Was just trying to download that for my history class as you wrote that- great minds think alike!

February 16, 2006 @ 6:11 pm | Comment

Dear Math,

Please send recipe for whatever it is you’ve been taking.


February 16, 2006 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

Richard, Math is disruptive for us thread browsers. He always gets an essay in the first 10 comments, which is usually when an open thread is choosing a topic. As a result, we have to pick through the intermittant cries of “whats all this then” during the rape scene.

Keir has a legitimate point as well that Math doesn’t ever respond, and when he does its usually another essay. His contortionist pretzel logic is impressive, but an open thread is for an open discussion, ain’t it? We know he reads comments, but the only time he’ll ever respond is when he gets huffy about ice skaters.

Here’s my proposal: you should edit every essay post by Math. Not any other posts by Math, just these essay. No deletions, just a header in bold at the top stating something like:

This unsolicited essay is provided by Math. Math is allegedly a nationalist Chinese male, who often posts essays that are irrelevant to the discussion. Richard keeps them as a counter-example to rational thought, and for shits and giggles. Read at your own risk.

I think that sums up your position on Math, and it would have the following benefits:

a) Keir and I would stop complaining
b) Math’s essays would be clearly demarcated, making it easier to carry on our conversations as if they never happened if we so choose.
c) New readers would be clear on the Math policy, and we wouldn’t have to repeat ourselves when someone gets confused by him.
d) It would be mad funny.

Of course, perhaps my disclaimer isn’t quite how you’d put it. Everybody, what’s a good disclaimer to put on Math’s essays? Mine was four sentences, maybe it should be shorter.

Or how about simply Yet Another Math Rant, followed by the title and first three lines, and then a more tag?

Bonus question: Who cried “whats all this then” during the rape scene”, why and on what television programme? Ivan, let other people guess first

February 16, 2006 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

I think Math does provide comic relief as long as he is not too windy.
Ivan have you been secretly sending him vodka laced with something?

February 16, 2006 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Really Richard, why do you allow someone obviously in the pay of the CCP to take over your forum like this? You claim that it just goes to show people the mentality of such people, but that’s assuming they actually read through such drivel. Besides, if you’re visiting this site, I assume you already know how mindless the CCP is. I know the views of the Oklahoma Nazi Party, but I don’t expect to be subjected to it at every turn. I take your point too that people could just scroll down. But as I said, I write something, some guy writes a big long speech about I Believe the CCP’s Monopoly of Power Is Totally Justified like a 5 year old in kindergarten, and everyone ignores everything before it and after it to scroll down ASAP. Look at your last thread. What were there, 120 comments? How many were taken up by such people seeking only confrontation? Or the thread before that? Or before that? I end up writing a couple of comments and then give up, unable to bother going through this mindless pap and the responses that invariably go on ad infinitum.
What I want is to have a discussion where I’m told my criticism of Chinese censorship for example is out of order because there are countries in the EU for example that ban anti-Christian comic books or whatever. But there is no such dialogue, these comments are just taken up by one-dimensional rants by either foreigners pretending to be Chinese looking to stir things up (I direct you to for one such example) or people in the pay of the regime. Either way they are not writing to inform or engage in discussion with no appeals to history, or logic, or any real analysis of the world outside, nor do they care that their writings show them to be ignorant and lacking in higher education of a standard most of us can appreciate.
You can continue to coaxe us to “play fair.” But ask yourself in the end: do such comments reflect the intelligence of the writers, or the integrity of this site?

February 16, 2006 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

I agree with davesgonechina, for what it’s worth…

February 16, 2006 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

Keir, this week I happened to consider the same questions you are asking, and am looking into a solution. Thanks for telling me how you feel, and please be patient. The only way to focus on a specific topic is to abandon the open thread idea and go for a threaded forum where each thread is dedicated to a specific issue. Then, Math’s extraneous comments would be deleted. It’s something I am considering, and if I find someone who can help me design it, I’ll go ahead with it.

February 16, 2006 @ 7:14 pm | Comment

Interviewer: But the police have film of the Communist Party actually nailing your head to the floor.

Math: (pause) Oh yeah, they did that.

Interviewer: Why?

Math: Well they had to, didn’t they? I mean there was nothing else they could do, be fair. I had transgressed the unwritten law.

Interviewer: What had you done?

Math: Er… well they didn’t tell me that, but they gave me their word that it was the case, and that’s good enough for me with old CCP. I mean, they didn’t *want* to nail my head to the floor. I had to insist. They wanted to let me off. They’d do anything for you, the CCP would.

Interviewer: And you don’t bear them a grudge?

Math: A grudge! Old CCP. They were a real darling.

Interviewer: I understand they also nailed your wife’s head to a coffee table. Isn’t that true Mrs Math?

Mrs Math: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Math: Well they did do that, yeah. They were hard men. Vicious but fair.

February 16, 2006 @ 7:41 pm | Comment

Interviewer: Math, after they nailed your head to the floor, did you ever see them again?

Math: Yeah…..after that I used to go round their headquarters every Sunday lunchtime to apologise and we’d shake hands and then they’d nail my head to the floor

Interviewer: Every Sunday?

Math: Yeah but they were very reasonable. Once, one Sunday I told them my parents were coming round to tea and would they mind very much not nailing my head that week and they agreed and just screwed my pelvis to a cake stand.

February 16, 2006 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

dave, stop giving the others so many hints.

Jerome, I only share vodka with people who know how to enoy themselves. It would be wasted on Math.

February 16, 2006 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Interviewer: “Today, Math is going to tell us his theory about the Brontosaurus.”

Math: “Yes, this is my theory, which is mine, that is to say, this theory of mine, is mine. My theory about the bronotsaurus: All brontosuaruses are thin at one end, much MUCH thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the other end.”

Interviewer: “That’s it, is it?”

Math: I have another theory.

Interviewer: “Shut up, please.”

Math: (clearing his throat)

Interviewer: “Look, if you don’t SHUT UP, I will shoot you!”

February 16, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

I know, but the Math was just a perfect stand-in for Stig. It had to be done.

No googling, people, that’s not how we roll.

February 16, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

Oh man, I forgot that one.

February 16, 2006 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

Richard, my suggestion for your “Math Disclaimer”: At the end, as you write “Good for some giggles, not much else”, you could add: “…unless you enjoy watching public masturbators.”

February 16, 2006 @ 9:52 pm | Comment

Well, last week Math showed you how to become a gynaecologist. And this week on ‘How to do it’ he’s going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, he’s going to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

February 16, 2006 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

Whether or not you agree with Math, he does provide interesting and unique perspectives on many problems. And the kind of nasty insults you guys throw at him is truly astounding. Please, grow up.

I feel that Math is a very brilliant “leftist” writer, and he is neither anti-CCP or pro-CCP. He believes that the world is not as black and white as “democracy good, China bad”, but that many of the “values” we consider to be unquestionable today can all be up for debate. I think many of his opinions would anger CCP censors as well.

February 16, 2006 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

Yes, Math is a brilliant debater who brings profound insights to all of us. Like today’s gem:

There indeed is much corruption inside the CPP. But the corruption is nothing but an internal transfer of wealth. For example, what difference does it make that a billion dollars goes into the pocket of a CPP official or into the construction of roads? It is their money. You cannot dictate others how they spend their money, can you?

Right. What would we do without such pearls of wisdom. And thank God he’s not pro-CCP – perish the thought! People are judged by the company they keep, CH. Think carefully if you want to point to math as your blog-buddy.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

I never said I agree with everything Math wrote. But don’t assort to character attacks.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

“I feel that Math is a very brilliant “leftist” writer, and he is neither anti-CCP or pro-CCP.”

I don’t know if Math is anti-CCP or pro-CCP, or what he believes about anything for that matter, since his writings involve no interaction with anyone else but simply are deaf tracts full of logical absurdities. For the sake of “leftists”, you may want to rethink that statement.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

The Chinese Communist Party (CPP)’s monopoly of power is justified. Why? Well, CPP spent an incredible amount of manpower and resources, sacrificed millions of lives in order to gain the power.

I feel that Math is a very brilliant “leftist” writer, and he is neither anti-CCP or pro-CCP.

I won’t bother to explain to the absence of logic in these guys anymore. They will just ignore it, unable to form a reasonable argument. And then later on spew out a huge essay on an entierly different topic.

Was hoping to see some discussion the reopening of freezing point, without the original staff. We are increasinly drifting away from the “reality based community”

February 16, 2006 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

“…the kind of nasty insults you guys throw at him…please, grow up….”

This assumes facts not in evidence – ie, the unproven fact that Math has ever said anything which does not deserve utter scorn and contempt.

And China Hand, your way of resorting to appeals to “maturity” is another slick logical fallacy. I repeat: Utter nonsense deserves mockery and scorn. What’s really “immature” (a term which tends to be used most often by teenagers and other types of sophomores) is presuming (as teenagers tend to) that exaggerated seriousness is the mark of maturity.

The opposite tends to be more true.
Maturity involves knowing what to take seriously, and what not to.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

Most important of all China Hand, Math is no fun. He doesn’t play with other children, he simply nails his tracts to the Duck’s door like he’s Martin Luther, as if we’re supposed to have gleaned some knowledge from them. The only knowledge we’ve consistently gained from Math is the certainty that he’s incoherent. And he doesn’t laugh at any of Ivan’s jokes, which is a sure sign of a party pooper.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Richard: I still think the Math disclaimer should be bold, but nice to see you appreciate the idea.

Other Lisa: your wife comment on Math pretty much nails why he’s an idiot.

February 16, 2006 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Yeah, last night his wife kept telling me what a total idiot he is!

February 16, 2006 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

Good suggestion for handling Math’s lame monologues. Now I can scroll right on by. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bonus question: Who cried “whats all this then” during the rape scene”, why and on what television programme?

Back at davesgonechina: who was the only person in fim history to portray both a rapist and his victim?

February 16, 2006 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

As mentioned above, Freezing Point will begin publishing again. Except with a different editor. And after it “apologizes” for its history essay.
Quote: “This is a ridiculous decision!” Li Datong said on Thursday in a telephone interview. “The soul of Bing Dian has been extinguished. Only a shell is left. If the staff decides to protest, no one will do the job. It will be an empty paper on March 1.”
The reopening of the paper with the same name but, I would assume, a different style, kind of reminds me of the new “China-friendly” What you’re left with is an identical name and changed content. Is this a new, somewhat smarter (but probably not all that smart) development in the fight on free speech?

February 17, 2006 @ 1:50 am | Comment

Martin Luther was also a monomaniacal, boring git if you ask me. But at least he was a consistent one, and he wrote at least one good song – good enough to be the theme song for “Davy and Goliath” anyway.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:21 am | Comment

Luther – accompanied by the heaviest Gothic brass imaginable:

“Ein Fes-te Burg ist un-ser Gott,
I’m con-sti-pa-ted now;
To get them loose, I’ll curse the Jews,
Until I move my bowels”

Sorry, Luther gets on my nerves. And so, yes dave, he was a good analogy to use vis a vis Math.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:26 am | Comment

For what’s worth, I like Math. You can’t write comedy like that. It’s gorgeous. The guy has just explained, in 800 words, why it’s perfectly OK for me to come into his house, shoot him in the head and take all his crap. He’s somehow convinced that China is the only country that has ever had a revolution (or at least that no democracy has been born in one). He’s confused a system of government with a specific administration. He’s defined corruption in a way that’s so ludicrous that, so help me god, I can’t even think of a way to make fun of it. He’s the Pee-Wee Herman of essayists. I think it’s high time someone compiled a “The wit and wisdom of Math”.

Can we keep him, Richard, puh-leeez?

Of course, if he comes onto my site, I’ll ban him like the pox.

February 17, 2006 @ 2:52 am | Comment

Check out
Wish I could understand Chinese….

February 17, 2006 @ 2:58 am | Comment

Will, I’m considering. His nonsense is definitely good for a chuckle. Every blog needs a Village Idiot, I suppose.

February 17, 2006 @ 3:12 am | Comment

I’ll presume you’ll allow me license to post the same comment in two different threads – as I think it’s appropriate here. In a comment on a thread below, I wrote:

China Hand: Raccoon, without rabies

HongXing: Rat, with rabies

Math: Subordinate Bonobo Monkey who has been buggered too many times by the Alpha Apes and now mutters to himself in a corner of the cage

February 17, 2006 @ 3:12 am | Comment

Ivan, please don’t make me laugh so hard when I’m at work.

February 17, 2006 @ 3:14 am | Comment

China Hand: Butthead
Hongxing: Beavis
Math: Stuart, the little nerd who wants to be friends with Beavis and Butthead.

ChinaHand/Beavis: Uhh, other countries suck.

HX/Beavis: Yeah, yeah, other countries suck! They SUCK!

ChinaHand: Yeah. And our country RULES!

HX: Yeah, our country RULES! We RULE!
And all other countries go into my bunghole, and my bunghole goes, ratatattat, hachachacha! We rule! We RULE! And foreigners suck!

Math (presuming, mistakenly, that Beavis and Butthead are his friends):
“Guys, I wrote an essay about what you were both saying now!”

Butthead/China Hand: “Uhh, yeah.”

Beavis/HX: Yeah! Yeah! Math, Math is COOL! He like, he wrote like how we RULE! And foreigners SUCK!”

Butthead/CHinaHand: Let’s go break some stuff.

Beavis/HX: Yeah, breaking stuff is COOL!

Stuart/Math: Stays behind and writes more essays which no one will ever read.

February 17, 2006 @ 4:10 am | Comment

This Math character may be the most brilliant social satirist of our time. He is the Lu Xun of the twenty-first century. In all likelihood, he is actually a deep-green Taiwanese “splittist” drawing a cruelly incisive portrait of the CCP drone’s slave mentality.

February 17, 2006 @ 6:54 am | Comment

Ooooh, you’re so cruel, Ivan.

February 17, 2006 @ 7:06 am | Comment

Are you others sure Math isn’t a wind-up merchant, a piss-taker?

His diatribe is either the work of a certified peabrain or is a surreal pastiche, a parody of Orwellian Doublespeak of the CCP variant ( If it was the latter I would have attributed it to Madge, except that it’s almost witty).

February 17, 2006 @ 7:19 am | Comment

Ivan, you’ve got talent.

February 17, 2006 @ 7:24 am | Comment

Ivan your comment on the subordinate Bonobo Monkey has me laughing so hard my wife wonders what I am reading on the net

February 17, 2006 @ 7:51 am | Comment

Fortunatly there are reasonable voices in China. Like Yuan Weishi, the guy who critisised the Chinese history books in Bingdian, whereupon the magazin was closed down:

The humiliation from the insults and injuries gave
the Chinese people a new momentum in thinking.
This is shown over the long-term in the form of a
specious concept: since the “foreign devils” are the
invaders, the Chinese are justified and praised in
whatever they do. This is required by patriotism.
The current history textbooks are using this
concept to guide thinking. It is obvious that we must
love our country. But there are two ways to love our
country. One way is to inflame nationalistic passions.
Traditional Chinese culture had deeply ingrained
ideas such as ????? Chinese and foreigners
(babarians) are different and ????,
???? if you not my kind, then your loyalties
must be opposite to mine. Our thinking is still
poisoned by them today. The latest edition is this: if
there is a conflict between China and others, then
China must be right; patriotism means opposing the
other powers and the foreigners. In the selection and
presentation of historical materials, we will only use
those that favor China whether they are true or false.
The other choice is this: we analyze everything
rationally; if it is right, it is right and if it is wrong, it
is wrong; calm, objective and wholly regard and
handle all conflicts with the outside.

February 17, 2006 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Shit, allways trouble with those characters.

February 17, 2006 @ 7:55 am | Comment

(Blush)…hey, guys, I’m just a clever middle-class WASP Yankee who memorised all 39 episodes of Monty Python, as all rich Northeastern boys of my generation did.

Ah, on that note, let me tell you about the radio program (which was broadcast on one of the major radio stations in the Northeast of America in 1979) – which my friend and I wrote and performed on nationwide radio in 1979:

“The Last Ride of the Dolton Gang”

Yep, my friend and I wrote, and performed this on national radio, in 1979, when we were both teenagers:

Gomez and Bo Dolton, found a treasure map in “Uncle Gordon’s Holier Than Thou Almanac And Maxims For Living.” (And yes, this was more than 25 years before I met “Gordon” of TPD in cyberspace!)

“Uncle Gordon’s Holier-Than-Thou-Almanac and Maxims for Living” – I invented that back in the 1970s, when I was a teenager. Maybe it was a prophecy about our beloved Gordon of TPD. ๐Ÿ™‚

The treasure map showed the Dolton Boys, that there was some gold wrapped in a SHAWL, in Iran. (Again, this was in 1979.)

And the Dolton Boys went to Iran, to find the “Shawl filled with gold.” And they went to Iran with hundreds of radical Iranian students, “just for protection.” And they went to the American Embassy in Iran, and then the American DOLTon boys took everyone hostage there, and then someone asked them,

“What do you want? What are your demands?”

And the Dolton boys said, “All we want, is the shawl, filled with gold, in the chest…”

…and the police said, “The Shah! THEY WANT THE SHAH IN A CHEST!”

…and so began the ordeal of “America Held Hostage.” And at the end, my friend and I played guitar and we sang (with a tip of the hat to Hank Williams) – we sang an ancient American-Iranian folk tune:

“Khomeini, Khomeini, I wonder,
But I really don’t want to know…”

(Hank Williams: “How many, how many, I wonder…)


February 17, 2006 @ 8:29 am | Comment

Oh God, I’m regressing now, after I shared that last bit about my satirical radio program in 1979, about the Shah and Khomeini.

When I was ten years old (in America, in one of the posh East Coast schools) my English teacher assigned us to finish a short story which began:

“The Dog Who Did Tricks. One day, a little dog came into our class, balancing a ball on its nose.”

And, at ten years old, I had to write a story about that.

So I wrote – paraphrasing from memory now (although my Mum still has the document):

“Hi,” said the poodle.
“Hi,” said the other poodle.
“I hate my job,” said the poodle.
“What do you really want to do?” said the other poodle.”
“I want to be a Palestinian terrorist”, said the dog who did tricks.

I got a D-minus for that essay. ๐Ÿ™‚
But I would have gotten an “F” if my teacher had not hated Jews so much.
๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚
(Richard, I hope you’re laughing and spitting out your coffee… ๐Ÿ™‚

February 17, 2006 @ 8:50 am | Comment

Alright, now that we’ve all gotten it out of our system (hopefully) let’s focus on how likely the prospects are for peaceful democratization in China.

If there is peaceful democratization, what political positions do you think the parties would take? Would the CCP still survive? Would it just mutate?

IMHO, China would go the way of Japan/SKorea rather than Taiwan, where there is one main party (could be something other than the CCP) and a few minor parties. China wouldn’t necessarily evolve into a biparty system; there are actually to many socioeconomic viewpoints IMO to warrant that development.

February 17, 2006 @ 9:55 am | Comment

The readers of this blog must be humor-impaired. Why else would so many take Math seriously? Admittedly, I haven’t read his other essays, but I LOLed while reading this one. It must be satirical. Besides, if he was really a nut case, wouldn’t his rant use all caps?

February 17, 2006 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Jonathan Swift and Zhuangzi all rolled into one nutty package he is!
Even the name under which he posts his entirely illogical diatribes, Math, gives fair warning that he is in on the joke. The bit on how public enterprise is inefficient and so the CCP should decide to call itself private thereby rendering itself efficient…priceless! I’m too short, therefore I will make an explicit statement regarding my tallness; that’s a step in the direction of true tallness! I expect to be dunking over Yao Ming by tomorrow morning.

February 17, 2006 @ 11:35 am | Comment

Shanghai Slim:

“Back at davesgonechina: who was the only person in fim history to portray both a rapist and his victim?”

No idea. Can I google? Otherwise I’m gonna go with Rodney Dangerfield.

February 17, 2006 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

I’ll guess Ned “squeal like a pig” Beatty.

February 17, 2006 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

Deeply affecting article in today’s NYTimes: Fired Editors of Chinese Journal Call for Free Speech in Public Letter.
Money quote: “The newspaper run by the taxpayers’ money is forced to publish the trash of the propaganda officials. This is a crime and an abuse of power.”

February 18, 2006 @ 4:53 am | Comment

Keir, you are forgetting that the money doesn’t belong to the people but that it’s the CCP’s money! Allways trying to impose their flawed ideas of justice on China those Westerners!

February 18, 2006 @ 5:42 am | Comment

I was quoting from the CHINESE editors.
I would never suggest that there was any practicable or real idea of justice in China myself.

February 18, 2006 @ 6:59 am | Comment

Shulan- SORRY! I didn’t mean to call you an idiot- I just came home after a few pints of Guinness so I’m touchy with anyone criticising me or my culture without even bothering to read the article first.
Personally, after 4 years in China I’d be more than prepared to defend the Western sense of justice to anything I’ve seen here in Beijing where people will siomply stand and point at children hit by cars….

February 18, 2006 @ 7:37 am | Comment

More proof that the Chinese don’t give a damn about free speech.

The controversy over news media censorship in China continued Friday as two editors who had been removed from a feisty weekly journal, Freezing Point, issued a public letter lashing out at propaganda officials and calling for free speech.

Meanwhile on Friday, a group of prominent scholars and lawyers who had contributed articles to the journal wrote an open letter to President Hu Jintao, denouncing the crackdown against Freezing Point as a violation of the Chinese Constitution and of the promise made by top leaders for a consistent rule of law.

The two broadsides came as intellectuals and some former party officials have sharply criticized the recent increase in censorship of the news media. Propaganda officials, who shut down Freezing Point last month, announced this week that the publication would restart March 1, but without the top two editors.

In their public letter, which was released in Beijing, the two editors, Li Datong and Lu Yuegang, defended their stewardship of Freezing Point and made an ardent plea for freedom of expression, saying it was the role of the news media to investigate “unfairness in the world.”

“What do the people want?” they wrote. “The freedom of publication and expression granted by the Constitution.”

February 18, 2006 @ 7:38 am | Comment

And Richard, quote the 13 scholars who wrote an open letter to President Hu arguing that the Chinese Constitution (CHINESE constitution, not one imposed from the West) protected free speech, even speech the government deemed incorrect.

“There are those among us who don’t fully agree with the views expressed in Yuan Weishi’s article, but we firmly believe in protecting his right to publish the article, because Yuan’s piece didn’t violate the Constitution or break the law,” the scholars wrote. “A basic tenet of freedom of speech includes the right to express ‘incorrect views.’ ”

Among the signers of the letter were He Weifang, a leading constitutional scholar; Qin Hui, a history professor at Qinghua University; and Zhang Yihe, an author whose father was an intellectual purged during China’s antirightist campaign in 1957.

The letter also directly addressed President Hu’s call for a “harmonious society.”

“Your concerns about opening up freedom of discussion aren’t completely unfounded,” the scholars wrote. “However, we need to understand, a truly harmonious society is actually a society that appears to be rife with various conflicts.”

I suggest that there are thoise in the West passionately hopeful about such things and others in China who could not give a damn but are content for their countrymen to live like subjects.

February 18, 2006 @ 8:13 am | Comment

This is, in the words of Mao Zedong, an “internal contradiction” among the people. That open letter is written by people who genuinely wanted China to get better and giving real and sincere advice to Hu Jintao. In other words, they are on the same team as Hu. So I’d expect Hu to handle this in a gentle and non-confrontational way, and actually treat their advice seriously.

This is completely different than say an editorial in the NYT or a post by Richard that criticisizes Hu, because they have are not offering genuine advice but are only criticizing for the sake of criticizing.

It is important to differentiate those two kinds of contradictions.

February 18, 2006 @ 12:02 pm | Comment

This is, in the words of Mao Zedong, an “internal contradiction” among the people. That open letter is written by people who genuinely wanted China to get better and giving real and sincere advice to Hu Jintao. In other words, they are on the same team as Hu. So I’d expect Hu to handle this in a gentle and non-confrontational way, and actually treat their advice seriously.

This is completely different than say an editorial in the NYT or a post by Richard that criticisizes Hu, because they have are not offering genuine advice but are only criticizing for the sake of criticizing.

It is important to differentiate those two kinds of contradictions. I suggest you read Mao Zedong’s famous treatise called “Mao Dun Lun” (On Contradictions)

February 18, 2006 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

China_Hand, I think you’re being disingenious here and assuming motivations that you couldn’t necessarily know.

I feel like a broken record here, but if I criticize China, it is not “for the sake of criticizing,” but because in my judgment, I see some very real problems that cry out for criticism. Given that, as I’ve also said ad infinitum, I very much want to see China succeed, this criticism is not offered in a destructive way but because these are real issues that need to be raised if China is to improve. I don’t generally feel qualified to offer advice, but given the lack of open debate in China, I think at least raising the issues is helpful and constructive.

And as we’ve also said on many occasions, if you’ll note the articles that Richard publishes about the US, you will have to admit that his criticisms are not one-sided.

February 18, 2006 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

Other Lisa, I do seem to be genuine in your criticisms of China (especially given that you have lived in China for a long long time), so those comments are not directed at you.

February 18, 2006 @ 12:19 pm | Comment

correction: “you do seem to be genuine in your criticisms of China”

February 18, 2006 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

China_hand, just to clarify, I haven’t lived in China for a very long time! Though I visit as often as I can.

I hope to make a trip this May.

February 18, 2006 @ 3:07 pm | Comment

I think China_Hand raised an interesting point. That is, how the criticisms of China from this site, or from the western media as a whole, are perceived by Chinese. Many of the criticisms are not destructive, but are not constructive either. There is huge difference between โ€˜you are bad, go to hellโ€™ and โ€œyou are bad but I want to help youโ€. You donโ€™t have to be a psychic to tell the differences, just listen to the tones.

February 18, 2006 @ 5:05 pm | Comment

Well, CLC, you are right to a degree, but in all fariness, I think part of the reason some Chinese perceive criticisms this way is because they have been conditioned by the nationalistic “China must always be right in any disagreement with foreigners” attitude, starting with history textbooks, as mentioned above.

If you are coming from this point of view, *any* foreign criticism will be automatically categorized as “not constructive” and “just for the sake of criticizing”.

How else can you explain Chinese who bristle at foreigners complaining about, say, Chinese police torturing false confessions from suspects? It’s pretty hard to give constuctive, non-critical advice to a torturer.

Just ask Dick Cheney.

February 18, 2006 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

“Back at davesgonechina: who was the only person in fim history to portray both a rapist and his victim?”

No idea. Can I google? Otherwise I’m gonna go with Rodney Dangerfield.

The actor was Divine in “Female Trouble”. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Liu Yixi, Ned Beattty was a creative guess!)

Maybe I mentioned this already here, but I found a boxed set of John Waters’ DVDs in a Shanghai shop. I wonder what the hell Chinese viewers could possible make of “Desperate Living” or “Pink Flamingos”?

February 18, 2006 @ 6:22 pm | Comment

Hey Shanghai, speaking of, erm, well, I don’t know what…anyway I missed out on the cheap airfares for April so I figure I might as well wait till May when the weather is a bit nicer. Lemme know what I can bring you from Los Angeles!

February 18, 2006 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

I have said this before and I’ll say it again: It doesn’t take an intellectual heavyweight to win a debate with an intellectually disabled victim of brainwashing. The fact that some Chinese are not receptive to well meaning, bleeding heart advice from pontificating Westerners is no surprise. What is surprising is the violent reaction this brings on from some of the very same earnest prosyletizers of Western enlightenment. When your disdain for the country and people you are supposedly trying to help starts to consume you, when you start to perceive everything around you through dark coloured lenses, it’s a sure sign to get the hell out. Some of you have obviously been spending too much time in China for your own good. Cultural fatigue is understandable and happens to the best of us. Intellectual masturbation on the other hand is inappropriate in a public forum.

February 18, 2006 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

But Schticky, if there were no pontificators, whither blogs?!

February 18, 2006 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

So I shouldn’t criticise the Yanks for torture at Abu Ghraib or holding 500 on a remote base in the Caribbean without charge or contact with the outside world unless I come up with a 5 point plan myself?

February 18, 2006 @ 7:50 pm | Comment

As for Chinahand and his doubleact CLC, I criticise an immoral regime like I would the Nazi party. If you aren’t ashamed to accept Chinese being told what to read, talk about or think, good for you. That’s your solution- do nothing. And no, I won’t read Mao’s ‘thoughts’ anymore than I’ll pick up a copy of Mein Kampf.
As for MY suggestion to the CCP? Well, it can start by OBEYING ITS OWN CONSTITUTION?B (article 35, anyone?)

February 18, 2006 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

China Hand, nearly all of my posts on China are about actual events occurring in China to Chinese people. They are never blind angry criticisms of China – the complaints are from Chinese people themselves. I am not a paid consultant to Hu and I never said I have magic solutions. I have, however, offered Hu some solutions many, many times, but neither he nor you appear to be listening. I’ll repeat a few: move towards a system of enforceable rule of law, stop punishing people for expressing their ideas, make environmental protection as a high a proirity as development…I could go on. This is a blog. I blog about articles I see that catch my attention. It is not a manifesto for changing China. And you’d be surprised about the email I get from readers in China. It is almost entirely positive, with a few incredibly nasty flaming exceptions. Most say they think this site is a good thing even if they don’t always agree with me. As Lisa said, this blog is an equal opportunity criticizer: I criticize Bush more than I criticize Hu. If you don’t like it, you can start your own blog or keep away or both. I think the governments in America and China have deep deficiencies and I’m exercising my right to say so, a right most in China do not enjoy.

February 18, 2006 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

Schticky, what are you referring to when you write:

What is surprising is the violent reaction this brings on from some of the very same earnest prosyletizers of Western enlightenment.

I don’t think any bleeding hearts here want to impose their own belief/morality system on anyone else. I can’t speak for everyone, but Keir gets it right when he says it’s about China honoring its own constitution. Most of these “Western” beliefs are embodied in this document. Except in China, they are then ignored. Most of the beliefs are universal and not Western – freedom of expression, freedom from tyranny, the right to a fair trial, representation in return for taxation. When we talk about these issues here, it’s almost always in light of news about Chinese people who are protesting or dying for these rights, not because we are insisting they adopt our system. When we read these stories about the village riots or migrant workers going unpaid or random arrests of innocents, it’s from sympathy with the victim, same as when I criticize Bush for the unnecessary carnage in Iraq. I’m not imposing my values. These values are universal, these values are Chinese, and no explanations of cultural relativism can sway me on this one. I know full well most Chinese don’t care about the censorship issue. But when some who do are thrown out of their jobs or arrested, it’s fair for me to say my peace about it, and to point out how such acts go against China’s own laws, how they are in defiance of China’s own belief system, not just my own.

February 18, 2006 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

“earnest proselytizers of Western Enlightenment”…..

Well, if that means prosyltizing for Monty Python and Beavis and Butthead, then I’m guilty.

February 18, 2006 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

Ivan, I owe you an email about a movie. I haven’t forgotten.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

No rush, bud, By the way I’ll be travelling for a few days.

February 18, 2006 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

You go, Richard.

February 18, 2006 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Well, ShanghaiSlim, itโ€™s true that nationalistic sentiments play a role in the defensiveness of some Chinese peopleโ€™s reaction to foreign criticisms. However, this reason alone could not explain why, back in 1989, Chinese intellectuals were strong pro-western (including Japan) and were jubilant when the communist regimes fell across Europe; but today, most of them support, or are at least in truce with the CCP.

This tectonic shift of attitudes happened overtime and the non-constructive criticisms from the West certainly contributed to that. No, I donโ€™t mean any criticism should be wrapped with a 5 point plan. In many areas, western criticisms per se do help Chinese people, such as in the case of SARS, or freeing political dissidents.

The problem is criticism alone will not win you friends. To do that, you need to show respect and understanding. Many western criticisms, however, are delivered in a patronizing way.

Furthermore, there is a sometimes blurred line between criticizing the CCP, which most Chinese are glad to see; and China-bashing, which most Chinese are offended. Itโ€™s one thing to criticize the CCPโ€™s propaganda and its violation of the constitution. Itโ€™s another thing to label anyone who does not agree with western ideas as being brainwashed by the CCP. Itโ€™s alright to condemn the CCPโ€™s tacit support of the anti-Japanese mob; but it is offensive to equal the Chinese indignation to stone throwing.

The western criticisms could be better perceived if they are balanced with the reorganization of the positive development in China. As a country undergone vast changes, there are thousands of terrible things happing in China each year, ranging from national disasters to personal tragedy. Many of them, we can lay blame on the CCP and I am ashamed we have a government like that. The western media did a good job in revealing the dark side of the regime.

On the other hand, the CCP has also led China into an unprecedented economic growth (with a huge price) and mild progress in the political freedom and the rule of law (still terrible according to western standards). These are not well covered in the western media. Some of my American friends still thought the Chinese people were not allowed to leave their country and they were surprised to know there were shopping

February 18, 2006 @ 11:03 pm | Comment

shopping malls in China.

February 18, 2006 @ 11:03 pm | Comment

Actually, CLC, I read quite a few articles in western media dealing with China’s economic development and the vast changes in the lifestyles of many of China’s people (particularly urban dwellers). A couple of recent examples: NPR’s Marketplace broadcast from Chongqing for a week and covered a variety of such subjects. And there was a great article in the LAT about Chengdu that I really enjoyed. Just a couple off the top of my head.

I would go so far as to say that for every story about political repression and peasant unrest, you can find a story about Chinese society and lifestyle.

February 18, 2006 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

as a p.s., my take on this may be influenced by China coverage in my local paper, the LA Times, which does quite a lot of China stories, many of which are “lifestyle” stories as opposed to more political ones – they do those too, but compared say to the Washington Post, my impression is the LA Times does more daily life stories. Maybe because we are on the Pacific rim and there are so many Chinese and Chinese American people living here.

February 18, 2006 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

Other Lisa, I agree there are a lot of media coverage on the development and progress of China, especially in recent two years. What I want to point out is
1) The net impact of the media coverage of China is still tilted on the negative side, which the CCP has more to blame.
2). Many Americansโ€™ impression of China is outdated by one or two decades. Even they do get the updated info, it is often partial or incorrect. One of my American colleague thought the whole IBM (not just the PC unit) were bought by the Chinese and he thought China was going to buy off most American houses.
3) The knowledge of the Chinese and American people about each other is asymmetrical. Most educated Chinese are familiar with the American history as well as the American pop culture. They know American is a great country. They admire Washington and Lincoln. They watch Friends and American Idol. Most educated average Americans do not know the Great Wall was built in Qin dynasty or Ming dynasty; they donโ€™t know the rape of Nanjing; and they have never heard of Peking Opera. I am glad to see there is more coverage on the Chinese people and culture. Still, more could be done.

February 19, 2006 @ 12:11 am | Comment

CLC, well, sure. Believe me, I’m amazed at how ignorant many Americans are about China, and about the rest of the world, for that matter. But I’ll make a bet with you that most of the people in China who have the level of knowledge about American culture you cite are educated people, and that is still a fairly small percentage of China’s entire population.

I’ve always felt that there are some interesting and unremarked upon similarities between the US and China. Both are very large countries. Both are convinced of their own cultural superiority. And both have a tendency to isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

The US has the experience of being an immigrant nation. China has the experience of being an unwilling “host” to invading countries. So both the US and China have the experience of “the other” in their cultures. It’s all a question of how we integrate it.

My first experience in China was in 1979. I was quite young. And I hung out with these college students who could quote Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence to me. And I was really impressed at their level of education and their passion for ideas, for freedom, for democracy.

They took me to Democracy Wall, in fact. Translated the posters for me. Showed me the art exhibition that had been put up there, without permission. It was called the “Star Star” exhibit and I gather this is pretty well-known in modern Chinese art history.

Anyway, I’m rambling here. I think what I want to say is, there are certain universal values, in spite of cultural differences. And the universal values I support are those which lead to the greater blossoming of each and every person living under whatever system they are living under.

We all have a long way to go.

February 19, 2006 @ 12:58 am | Comment

Since china_hand cites Mao’s “on contradictions”, i’m going to reiterate “Crimes Against Logic” by Jamie Whyte, Whyte where he essentially points out Mao is without logic (and he does it in a non-contradictory way, unlike Mao).

Allowing people the right to their opinion, even though you disagree with it is by no means contradictory. Neither is understanding that a stable society is one that allows open discourse and a degree of controntation.

February 19, 2006 @ 1:57 am | Comment

Other Lisa, great post and thank you for sharing the story. I still remember that era when I had to listen to the VOA and the Voice of Free China (Taiwan) in secret. And my father was so worried that my neighbor might find it out that he always asked me to turn the volume down to almost inaudible (The strong Chinese interference signals didnโ€™t help). China has come a long way and still has a longer road ahead of her. I wish one day Chinese people could have the same kind of freedom as Americans do and I am quite optimistic.

February 19, 2006 @ 2:09 am | Comment

This is a classic “shifting the scope of discussion to avoid addressing the point.” Just now, we had:

Start out with comments on Freezing point, and how it demonstrates the unfortunate casualty of free speech in China today.

Then someone says “attacking the CCP is like attacking China”, ” (or it can feel that way), so it hurts our feelings” and something to that effect. And then points out examples of how ignorant Americans exist, too, like CCP-brainwashed Chinese.

Then the topic switches to “yeah, we all have a long way to go.” (The original point of free speech? What happened to that? I could point out there are people in america who are racists, but it is totally irrelevant.)

Here’s another common one.

Advocate: I believe the Chinese people would be happy under a representative form of government.

Commie: Well, in the US, you say you may have freedom of speech, and representation. But it’s all run by the richeset people, so it’s just theatrics.

Advocate: Well, in the US there are challenges to democracy, and the influence of corporations is one of them.

Commie: So you see, essentially it’s all the same. The people aren’t controlling the government. (What happened to the original point of the Chinese and a representative form of government?)

One more:

Advocate: Internet censorship in China is wrong, and it is immoral to incarcerate people for expressing their thoughts.

Commie: Western countries like Germany block internet sites preaching Nazi ideology, and pornography. China also does this.

Advocate: Yes, there is a concerted effort to eliminate child pornography and sites preaching hate.

Commie: So you see, it’s essentially all the same.

I’m done for now. But common other curveballs include “but this is better than cannibalism”

February 19, 2006 @ 2:27 am | Comment

When I say commie here, it’s like when people say “republican” or “democrat” – someone with the ideology of belief of that organization. I’m not calling anyone red guards or anything.

I just would enjoy the discussions so much more (regarding China, since that’s why we’re here, right?) if they were not always twisted in the ways I listed. We all want China to improve, and for the people to enjoy the freedoms that that improvement entails. (maybe except Math)

February 19, 2006 @ 2:32 am | Comment

Thanks for the analysis of “thread drift,” Skystreaker.

CLC, if you go to Google News and type in China, you may be surprised to see how the Western media is covering China. Nearly all of the articles are business-related, with a decidedly positive tile. Of course, that won’t be the case when there is breaking news about a high-profile Chinese story like Google’s agreement to censor its listings, but on average this is the case. I know, because I look there several times every day.

February 19, 2006 @ 6:12 am | Comment

Richard, definitely, there is huge business-related media coverage on China. What I want to say is: China is not only about political repression and economic growth. It has more, its people, its culture, and its history. Besides, if you combine a political repressive regime with a rapid economic growth, most westerners will perceive it as a potential threat. Thatโ€™s a net negative.

Speaking of โ€˜thread driftโ€™. I think it is the virtue/disadvantages of an open thread. A topic can only be discussed for so long as, well, people choose to write about it.

February 19, 2006 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Well, this is an open thread; a certain amount of drift is built in.

February 19, 2006 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

I’m all for thread drift. I believe what I’m pointing out is beyond that though – arguing points with irrelevant points and non-sequiturs. This doesn’t always happen, but it does a lot.

February 19, 2006 @ 4:02 pm | Comment

Reading all his past comments, I like this skystreaker chap.

February 19, 2006 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

“The conflict between the world’s biggest censor and an array of journalists, bloggers and dissidents has just taken a remarkable turn, explains Jonathan Watts in Beijing” in today’s Guardian:,,1713316,00.html

February 19, 2006 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

One thought expressed in the article repeated with some truth is “The freedom and rights of the Chinese people can only be won by the Chinese people themselves.” Ironic that those who say such things also rail against the 60+ year old crimes of the Japanese whose oppression and rule over the Chinese had been won by the Yanks in particular.
The last paragraph of that article also prompted a wry smile…

February 19, 2006 @ 5:24 pm | Comment



Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

February 19, 2006 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

Richard, put back that Fantabulist link back in its proper highlighted area!

February 19, 2006 @ 8:53 pm | Comment


February 19, 2006 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Let me guess who the moron was that wrote that…

February 19, 2006 @ 9:06 pm | Comment


February 19, 2006 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Keir, I’m trying to downplay the episode…

February 19, 2006 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

OMG, blog stalker!

February 19, 2006 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

hey, could PKD readers on the mainland check to see if my blog is blocked? A friend said they couldn’t get through…

Musing Under the Tenement Palm


February 19, 2006 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

Not blocked in Shanghai.

February 19, 2006 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

Dave – not blocked in Beijing either. How are ya?

Just looked at that Jonathan Watts Guardian article linked to above. It’s astonishing to me that he includes those “nationalistic” quotes from Michael Zhao Jing without identifying him as the author of the MSN blog that Microsoft pulled. Think he just didn’t know?

February 20, 2006 @ 1:18 am | Comment

On to the next thread, please.

February 20, 2006 @ 7:23 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.