Who hates China?

It seems that whenever a foreign observer criticizes China too strongly, they are labeled as somebody who feels threatened by China’s rise and seeks to undermine or belittle the accomplishments of the last 25 years. But who really hates China? For example, if I hated China – if I really wanted to see China fail – what would I do?

1. I would censor media reports about the spread of HIV/AIDS in China and harass or arrest anyone who seeks to publicize the truth about the extent of the disease while allowing this horrible virus to continue its destruction of lives, families, and communities. Instead of more education about the actual causes and transmission of the disease, I would blame the crisis on immoral foreigners and ‘troublemakers’ in the medical community.

2. I would make sure that economic growth, incomes, and opportunities were distributed unevenly throughout the country because there is no better way to be a ‘splittist’ of a nation than to make one part rich and keep a whole other (larger) part really poor. I would then systematically dismantle social welfare programs so that the ability to pay becomes the primary qualification for access to education and medical care. Those people too poor to pay I would let fend for themselves as a permanent pissed-off underclass, because that’s never caused problems in China before, right?

3. I would censor artists, musicians, painters, and filmmakers so that the true creative potential of the people can only be reached in secret or overseas. If an international body recognized an artist for the brilliance of their work, I would make sure first that the work was politically correct or appropriately edited before allowing the artist to receive his or her award. This would send a warning to others in the arts community that future creative endeavors must first meet the requirements of state and party. After all, which would you rather spend an evening watching: Zhang Yimou’s Ju Dou or the CCTV New Year’s Extravaganza?

4. I would create a system whereby local officials were never accountable to those they govern. Instead, I would reward officials only on the basis of self-reported economic growth thus gutting of any meaning laws protecting the environment or local communities. I would supervise the courts so that people would find it incredibly difficult to sue the government and, if they do, I would arrest their lawyers, thus further weakening the rule of law and the legal protections of stakeholders in society. Instead, I would watch blandly as China’s careens towards the greatest environmental mess in human history with poisoned rivers, industrial wastelands, and children and adults suffering horrific illnesses due to the toxic smog that envelopes most of China’s major cities. It’s hard to argue with logic that says cancerous particulate matter in the air is an acceptable cost of economic development but drinking a cold beverage is harmful to your health.

5. I would continue to cling to the territorial legacies of past empires and claim sovereignty over peoples that have never had any desire to be ruled by Beijing. I would further destabilize those regions by suppressing the language, culture, and religion of the subject people (including exiling major religious figures). I would anger the local communities by promoting the settlement of Han Chinese into those areas further diluting the culture, and build new railroads and pipelines to facilitate greater exploitation of resources so as to build grand cities thousands of miles away. If some territories did break away and succeeded in forming their own government, I would work to alienate those people from the world community and block their membership in any international organization. I would also promise invasion if that territory ever tried vote to form its own country, because nothing says ‘togetherness’ like the threat of military force.

6. I would create a birth-control policy that results in the abortion or export of unwanted girl children causing horrifically skewed sex ratios and a growing population of unmarried and underemployed young males because that’s a sure recipe for a stable society. Meanwhile, I will label any Chinese who marries or dates a foreigner as ‘immoral.’

7. I would use the basest justifications of geopolitics, amoral capitalism, and resource extraction to guide my international relations and foreign policy. This would ensure that despite Olympic Games and gleaming towers, the world community still thinks of China’s government as an enemy of the people and friendly to thugs. I’m here to tell you: the United States has used this strategy for over a century…anyone care to turn on CNN and see how well it’s worked out for us?

8. I would create a political ideology that systematically denies the people a voice in the affairs of government. I would make sure that political organizing, activism, and being socially and politically aware were as difficult as possible if not illegal. In this system, I would make the hold on power of an elite few more important than the well-being and potential of the great many. This would trickle down and create a ‘me first’ society that destroys community spirit while breeding mistrust towards others. I would create a society where pushing and shoving are common in public places, where people are treated differently based on their race or gender, and where every person approaches any commercial or social interaction with a stranger by wondering: ‘How am I going to get screwed? How can I screw the other guy?’

9. I would react to anything critical of China by throwing a temper-tantrum and screeching about ‘seeking the destruction of the Chinese nation’ even if the story is about bathrooms, funny English signs, or coffee shops. I would also label any criticism of China, by Chinese or foreigners and no matter how valid or vital, as ‘unpatriotic” or “anti-China.’

If I hated China, there are many things that I could do, but few that haven’t already been done by the Chinese government and the CCP. Few observers of China do ‘hate China.’ We choose to live here and work here. Many of us have families here. For my part, I have made the study of Chinese history my life’s work.

Even in the United States there are those in society and government who label criticism of US policies as ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘un-American.’ What’s more, the United States has quite a bit of experience with problems such as economic growth at the expense of the environment and workers’ rights, unequal distribution of wealth, crumbling social services, rampant consumerism, political apathy, immoral foreign policy, and the systematic oppression of a subject people-to name a few. Guess what? We are still cleaning up the mess. Surely, China with its long history and grand civilization can be counted on to be wiser and more level-headed, right?

I am glad that there has been a lot of progress recently, especially in environmental protections, improving the rule of law, working to broker a deal with the DPRK, and freeing the media to report on corruption and local issues. But there is so much yet to be done and it’s worth noting that many of these changes came about as the result of an increasing concern by the leadership regarding China’s image abroad.

I criticize the Chinese government for the same reason I criticize the US government: because I do love the country and it hurts to see what is being done to it. If it pains me, a laowai, how much more should it hurt a self-proclaimed ‘Chinese patriot?’

The Discussion: 114 Comments

Brilliant, J.!

February 21, 2007 @ 9:10 am | Comment

So tell me, why do you hate China you hippy?

1) Education schmeducation. If people still think drinking tiger dong soup or sleeping with virgins is going to cure them of aids in light of the already extensive aids awareness programs, then they deserve to die.

2) Income disparities are inevitable, particularly between the coastal regions and the interior. This is an inmutable fact of human civilization. Wealth redistribution programs reduce economic growth and introduce inefficency. This is not justifiable at China’s present stage of economic development nor are the socio-political forces agitating for such powerful enough to gain it. The Communist Party has all the power, it doesn’t matter how disgruntled the lumpen prolitariet are as long as sufficient repression is maintained and efforts are made to prevent labour organization and agitation.

3) Censorship of the idle artistic bourgeois is a good thing. It encourages them to try harder. There would be no Zhang Yimou or Chen Kaige without the Cultural Revolution. If there is anything western cultural dilettantes love, it is persecuted artists from the third world. It feeds their martyr complex. Censorship = more praise for Chinese artists.

4) First, kill all the lawyers. Environmental degradation is an indirect form of eugenics. It weeds out the weak.

5) This is most unfortunate. Give a splittist a hand, and he will take an arm. The old ways were best, kill half and leave neat little pyramids of skulls as a warning to the rest.

6) Personal choice, the government isn’t forcing anyone to abort baby girls.

7) As it should be!

8) Cooperation is overrated. Competition breeds efficiency, improves enthusiasm, and molds a fine killing instinct.

9) Revenge is best served cold. Temper tantrums are self-defeating. A grudge is best left quietly nourished and when the moment is ripe, to strike. As Conan said, true happiness is to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.

February 21, 2007 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Wait, doesn’t this mean the China-hater would have to be idiotic *as well* as malicious?

I mean, surely no one *really* believes that the economic reforms which have brought hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty are actually dangerous for China’s long term viability?

For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re really a “China-hater”, Jeremiah. What you really are, are a “Commie-hater”. You’re an out-dated, sheltered, over-educated, spoiled individual far more obsessed with the “political” design of the Chinese system than the positive results that she has created for her citizenry.

You’re more obsessed about China’s autocratic approach on HIV/AIDS than her actual accomplishments in limiting its spread… HIV/AIDS is a far greater public health risk in democratic India, for example.

You’re far more concerned with China’s dictatorial successes than India’s democratic failures. If this’s how you demonstrate your “love”, I’ll pass.

February 21, 2007 @ 10:03 am | Comment

If I studied India and cared as much about India as I do China, I’d probably criticize India. But I don’t care as much about India as I do China. I don’t live in India, part of my family is not Indian, my job is not teaching Indian history, and so I choose to write about China.

As for being a “commie-hater.” I’m one of the most lefty people you will ever meet and I’m probably the biggest CCP booster (comparatively) of all the writers for this site. Sorry to disappoint.

And thanks for the name-calling, you’re kinda proving my point for me.

February 21, 2007 @ 10:09 am | Comment

“You’re an out-dated, sheltered, over-educated, spoiled individual”

CCT- You may want to take a look in the mirror.

February 21, 2007 @ 10:16 am | Comment

wait, what??

February 21, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Comment

A little bit of skepticism (or criticism) can be healthy for everyone. That includes the Chinese ruling classes.

I mean, surely no one *really* believes that the economic reforms which have brought hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty are actually dangerous for China’s long term viability?

Sure it could be dangerous, the higher you reach, the harder you fall. Ever heard of the Great Depression that happened awhile ago during the US industrial boom.

February 21, 2007 @ 11:04 am | Comment

With “friends” like you, who needs enemies?

It may surprise you but Chinese would not consider you a “friend” and your so-called “friendship” is not wanted.

This paternalistic attitude towards the Chinese people is outdated. Pearl Buck is dead. Clean up your own house before you start sharing your “friendship” and “concern” with China and Africa. Many Chinese don’t like it.

I’m sure Africans and the Iraqi people would tell you the same thing regarding America’s “friendship” and “concern” for Africa and Iraq.

February 21, 2007 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Yes, very interesting article. Thanks for talking bout these points.
To Jing:
I believe your points are meant to be ironically, right? Otherwise, I feel really sorry for you.

February 21, 2007 @ 11:12 am | Comment


The US house is much cleaner than the Chinese one. Just ask the thousands of people trying to get a US visa.

I do know that Africans are very concerned with China’s “friendship”.

Finally, I think the biggest step China can take to deal with it’s problem is to free it’s press. The U.S. has done a relatively successful job dealing with its problems because of the free press. People talked about abolition, racism, environmental damage and women’s rights. I really think China needs to get off its high horse and start listening to what smart people, both in and out of China, are saying about what’s happening.

February 21, 2007 @ 11:16 am | Comment


You raise a good point. I don’t advocate the wholesale importation of American-style democracy into China. I’m not 100% sure it would work and I’ve rarely come across anyone in China who thinks it would. But I do think that three things could go a long way to addressing some of these problems. The first is, as you suggested, freeing up the press. The second would be making the judicial system completely independent from party supervision allowing the laws and protections currently on the books to be enforced as written. The third would be granting the right to assemble and speak freely.

Surely if the CCP is as loved as some of the commenters on this blog suggest, there would be no problems with these small changes, right?

February 21, 2007 @ 11:28 am | Comment


A pop quiz for a historian, which period in Chinese history satisfy all your three prerequisites?

Answer: The first ten years of ROC (1911-1921)

Follow-up: what happened then?

Answer: Err…

If you have read popular Chinese American historians, such as 唐德刚(民国前十年), 黄仁宇(Ray Huang, China: A macro history), you may formulate a historic perspective on the “path-dependent” nature of institution building.

Or maybe these historians are just too “Chinese” for you?

February 21, 2007 @ 11:52 am | Comment


I am shocked to think you believe the corrupt and authoritarian governments of Yuan Shikai, Duan Qirui, and the various warlords in control over what is today China satisfied these requirements. I might suggest rereading your history books a little more carefully. There was considerable censorship of the press, very little in the way of judicial independence (when and where legal protections could be enforced at all) and if you recall, most demonstrations were put down by various regimes through force of arms.

I have read Ray Huang. I find his monographs (even though I’m not a huge economic history buff) to be slightly better than when he tries to stretch over time. That said, while we don’t use his macrohistory as a text for our classes, it’s a fun read. And obviously, the 1587 book is good fun for an upper-division undergrad seminar. It has its flaws but is still one of the more accessible works on Chinese history for the non-historian.

I agree: development is not path dependent, which was the point of the original comment. I don’t believe American style democracy should be imported wholesale into China. It is a bad habit on this board for commenters to be in such a tiff that they fail to go back and read carefully before posting. I wish they would do so, as it makes for a better discussion.

February 21, 2007 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

In Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat”, he had some interesting quotes about China. One was from VD John Doerr, “[y]ou talk to the leadership in China, and they are all the engineers, and they get what is going on immediately. The Americans don’t, because they’re all lawyers.”

The other quote was from Bill Gate, “when you meet with Chinese politicians, they are all scientists and engineers. You can have a numeric discussion with them — you are never discussing ‘give me a one-liner to embarrass [my political rivals] with.’ You are meeting with an intelligent bureaucracy.”

You are entitled to think you have the answers to many of China’s problems and you have your every right to criticize the Chinese government, but in my not so humble opinion, even they heed half of your advices, China will become a big Philippines without the English skills.

February 21, 2007 @ 12:13 pm | Comment


To which “advices” [sic] were you referring? The original post lists how one might harm China, not how one would fix it.

February 21, 2007 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

Jeremiah, here is my understanding of your original post: it lists a host of issues facing China today, and ways to handle these issues that hurt China’s interest. The ways coincidentally are perceived as how the Chinese government is handling these issues. In other words, you indirectly provide your _advices_ to the Chinese government not to hurt China’s interest.

Of course my understanding could be wrong.

I just think most of your _advices_ are either not actionable, or will produce too many unintended negative consequences. Case in point, #2, presumably your advice is wealth redistribution. However, that takes the incentive to wealth building away.

BTW, Doerr is a VC, not VD. That was a typo.

February 21, 2007 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

How then to fix these problems? Let’s be constructive. Certainly the CCP has had it’s chance with limited results. Assuming you were elected (ahem) president of China, Which actionable solutions would you propose?

February 21, 2007 @ 12:49 pm | Comment

The first expressway was completed in 1988 in China. By the end of this decade, China will largely complete the bulk of its own “interstate highway system”. Give and take, that’s about 2 decades.

You know what is taking roughly the same timeframe to build in the US? The new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The bridge is a small section in the I-95 and the Capital Beltway. In winter time, Tiger Woods probably can hit his driver from one end to the other (a bit exaggeration). The bridge is 6-lane in the mostly 8-lane beltway. It’s a major congestion spot and often adds hours to people’s daily commute.

There was talk way back in the 80s to build a new bridge. After numerous environmental studies (may impact some obscured species), funding disputes (the bridge sits between VA, MD and DC), protests by communities that don’t want the bridge to be close to their houses, debates over its architectural appeal consistent with existing DC bridges, etc. finally, by the end of this decade the bridge will be completed!

Just don’t ask how much the total cost is.

February 21, 2007 @ 1:09 pm | Comment

Hey mingtian,

I agree with many of Jeremiah’s points in this post. Now, I can’t speak for Jeremiah, but as for myself, I am not at all surprised that “Chinese would not consider [me] a “friend” and [my] so-called “friendship” is not wanted.” I’ve lived in China more than long enough to know that.

My interest in seeing China improve is mostly selfish. I like living in China for a number of reasons and would like my life in China to improve over time. Some things in China that Jeremiah mentioned either affect me directly or affect me by affecting my Chinese friends and family:
a) Lack of AIDS education – many of my Chinese friends have pre-marital unprotected sex
b) pollution
c) media censorship
d) lack of official accountability
e) being labeled “immoral” for marrying a foreigner
f) the “me first” society
g) temper-tantrum nationalism

Now, you could just give me the simplistic, naive, overused, “If you don’t like China then ¹ö³öÈ¥,” response, but you’d lose my respect entirely because people who say this just show that they can not face up to the actual issues raised.

February 21, 2007 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

You’re a lefty, with a brain — a rare combo. You are right to criticize and I pretty much agree on all points, except the disparity in wealth one. What is the alternative? To each according to his needs?

February 21, 2007 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

Since they can’t dispute your points, Jeremiah, they attack you. Who hates China? The people who poison its air, land, and water, the people who invade and threaten its neighbors, the people who curb the rights of the Chinese, the people who smother the free press. Well said.

You’re a lefty, with a brain — a rare combo. You are right to criticize and I pretty much agree on all points, except the disparity in wealth one. What is the alternative? To each according to his needs?

No, it’s an economic structure that doesn’t lead to disparities of wealth. The alternative to insanity is always sanity, not another form of insanity. That means strong labor unions, strong government support of education, a tax on wealth, national health insurance, and similar.


February 21, 2007 @ 2:07 pm | Comment

“If I hated the US and I really wanted the US to fail “what would I do?”

1. I would place my military forces in over one hundred countries with future intentions of setting up a command in Africa.

2. I would make sure over 600,000 families and 1.35 million children experience homelessness in the United States.

3. I would allow the richest 1% to hold one third of the total wealth in the economy.

4. I would make sure that the US had the highest number of people in the world in prison 2,085,620 (China 1,548,498).

5. I would consider normal that there are nearly 3 times as many black men in prison in the U.S. than there are in college.

6. I would maintain the 2003 estimated of 19.5 million Americans aged 12 or older as current illicit drug user.

7. Maintain US position as world’s largest consumer of cocaine.

8. Allow 25% to 50% of the US population to own guns.

9. United States: 10,000,000 (5%) people illiterate – it’s OK.

10. Between 1995 and 2005, the United States lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs – this is progress.

If I hated the US and wanted to destroy it, I would not only do the above but would encourage the proliferation of pornography in the mainstream culture. I would encourage the acceptance of homosexual behavior and drug use as a “norm” so that it will further spread AIDS.

I would only allow people who are millionaires or multi-millionaires to be government leaders.

And finally, I would encourage China and other developing countries to adopt the “American way” and if not, I would destroy their country.

February 21, 2007 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

Ah Mingtian, you are as whimsical as you are predictable. I’m only shocked it took you five whole hours to come up with it. You must be slipping in your dotage.

If you finish reading the post (not your strong point I know, but bear with me) you will note that my point is exactly what you say. China IS following the American way and making many of the same mistakes that we have: giving economic growth priority over the rights of workers and environmental protections, mistreatment of minorities, immorality in foreign policy, runaway consumerism, and political apathy. It has taken us years to come out the other side and we still, as you so brilliantly and wittily elucidated, struggle with many of these issues.

It is my sincerest hope that China does NOT follow the US model and instead finds its own path to development. One that encourages growth while treating all fairly, one that builds gleaming cities while protecting the environment, and one that uses its clout in the world to promote responsible foreign aid and trade that provides real benefits for all involved. If China can do this without copying from the US or Europe, so much the better for China. China has a long and glorious history, surely it is capable of forging a new way even if it has given little indication of wishing to do so up to now.

Do you think these things are possible? If so, how? I’d like to know and I’m sure, given the lucidity of your prose, you are just the man to tell me. JXie responded to my challenge by telling me about a bridge. In Virginia. Because what China really needs now, apparently, is more asphalt and automobiles. How about you, what are your solutions?

Oh yes, and save the gay-bashing for the Christian Right blogs. It makes it that much harder to take you seriously.

February 21, 2007 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

Jeremiah, this is one of the best posts you’ve written. You highlight many important challenges facing China, ones which you think (for good reason) to be high priorities for the current Chinese leadership. While I don’t necessarily agree that the things you listed are the most glaring faults that threaten the continued health and viability of China, I have gained a lot of respect for your views and motivations for holding those views.

With that being said, it’s time to address your points.

1) I don’t think it’s intentional government policy to specifically censor stories about AIDS, or to try sweep the entire thing under the rug. A significant portion of the policy elite believes in solving the crisis (or else why would there be anti-AIDS ads in every subway station in Shanghai?). However, the Chinese government is opposed to the formation of an independent social movement focused around AIDS; hence, what appears to be censorship is really just robbing these NGOs of their ability to draw in people. Ultimately though, if it came down to a choice between a full-blown epidemic and letting a few NGOs grow, then the CCP would choose to let the NGOs grow. Because a full-blown epidemic might easily turn into full rebellion.

2) With regards to income inequality, the simplest way is to reduce spending on healthcare and increase it on education. Reduce the social net for older workers and older people and redirect it toward investment at the younger end of the spectrum. This has the dual effect of forcing people to save more money (increasing available investment capital, fueling further growth) and making people smarter and more productive, both of which will add to GDP in the long run. China is doing that, so I see no problem.

3) LoL; every country censors artists, musicians, etc. (no artist is completely free–everyone depends on the whims of their patron in order to get anything.) What I would try to do is make sure no artist is dependent on any overseas patron so that political leverage can be maximized both here and overseas. In that regard, if an artist recieves an award, why let them get it if it ends up giving them political leverage over your regime (i.e. it confers legitimacy on a politically critical piece). Artists can criticize, that’s fine, but we also have the right to make sure everyone ignores what they have to say. If artists made socioeconomically sound judgments, I would let people listen to them, but between bureaucrats with 25+ years experience and the art major down the street, I’d prefer the public listen to the former.

4) This accountability issue is changing; raise enough noise and the center will send someone down to fuck with the local dudes. I’ve seen it happen to several investment projects I was working on, in fact. But ultimately, you have to make sure that the ultimate mediators are not some western NGO but the central government. This is because in Chinese history, greatest peace and prosperity has typically come from times in which the political center has maximum political leverage but minimal incentive to use it.

5) This is where I disagree with you. The Chinese government has no active policy of producing expansionist claims (aside from that retarded Korguryo crap). And as for repression of minorities and Taiwan, sorry Buster, that’s what’s effective at silencing separatists and keeping a potential geopolitical threat down. Rehabilitation won’t work in either case, because those minorities have a history of being uppity when the center is weak (look how often Tibet declared independence in the past 100 years), and they are too important to let go (Tibet is like the the most beautiful missile launching pad Nature ever gave us. Reduces detection time by 20%, giving a 75% increased chance of warhead survival… plus it has tons of minerals, which can easily be shipped to Eastern industrial centers to give Chinese jobs and money.) Also, the ROC can suck it IMHO, because when they keep 15% of their military-age males in the military, they’re not being very peaceful either. All the talk about housing U.S. radar and spying facilities doesn’t speak much of togetherness either–and those facilities were there long before 1949, so don’t give me any of that “the PRC started it” bullcrap. The ROC is a medium-term threat, and until the two sides reconcile via a radical improvement in PRC living standards, it’s best to make sure they can’t lift a finger against the PRC’s politico-economic-military machine without facing thousands of missiles. Mearsheimer would agree. It’s all about national power and growth, and unfortunately you sometimes have to break a few eggs. I’m with the CCP on this one.

6) LoL the CCP never labeled Chinese who dated foreigners as immoral (Huang Ju’s daughter married an ROC guy, in fact, although I think they thought he was Chinese 😛 hehehe). As for the sex-ratio problems, the imbalance has already happened, and the revised policy allows for 2 children if both the parents are single children, so the policy will fix itself in 20 years. OTOH, look at China’s counterpart India, which tried the gentle approach and now runs the risk of having its economic growth derailed by a lack of employment opportunities for its rapidly breeding, unskilled northern states.

7) The CCP needs to hire a PR firm, period. And learn to dress up it’s discussions in terms of win-win and Sino-African brotherhood, just like the U.S. dresses up Iraq in the clothes of democracy. The CCP needs to learn to both have the cake of resources and eat the cake of legitimacy from “helping” the indigenous people. It can be done; the CCP just needs to grow more astute and adept.

8) This is because Chinese society is strictly hiearchical and people will continue following leaders they pledge loyalty to even if the leaders become fucktards like Li Hongzhi (who lives off the “offerings” of millions of FLGers around the world–way to go, parasite.) Denying power to alternate centers of power is the only way to maintain order–either that or coopting them and making sure they support the status quo. Change is always painful, and while coopting can work, suppression seems to have worked fine so far. It sure as hell has allowed Shanghai to develop far faster than that asshole of a city, Mumbai.

9) Do you see a temper tantrum? LoL. This is your one bad point, but I get pissed at people like pigsun too.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

Jeremiah, you wrote a very long piece and it will take a whole lot of time and effort to respond each point intelligently.

That point about the bridge is, if you have a totally free press and everybody’s concerns are completely addressed in a democratic society with an independent judiciary system, you may just well wait for your next life to get China’s new highway system. There are a plethora of benefits to have more asphalt and automobiles. For instance, with remote villages now connected to the highway system, rural poverty will be reduced. (Figure caring little people will get more of your attention)

I will just ramble a bit on one point: about one-child policy and the girl shortage. Do you know that hepatitis B carriers have a higher tendency to have baby boys? But anyway, one-child policy certainly help creates oversupplied men. But from a percentage point, what China facing now is far from unprecedented in history. The past societies with even skewer sex ratios didn’t become destabilized. Jim Roger believes to take advantage of this trend, investing in companies benefiting from women’s increased power — such as cosmetic companies. If women are to gain more power, gradually the predilection of male babies will diminish.

Can you imagine what it would be like if China had 1.7 billion people already?

February 21, 2007 @ 3:06 pm | Comment


Thanks for the praise. To be compared to Pigsun, Wow!…Wait, I need to call my Mom… Okay, I’m back.

Are you saying that of all the issues mentioned on this thread, that China’s greatest problems are a bad financial sector and that Chinese branding is not strong enough? Did I get that right?

I sincerely hope that you are correct in your assessments, nothing would make me happier, but I’m inclined to think that there are graver issues still at stake here.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

JXie wrote: “The past societies with even skewer sex ratios didn’t become destabilized.”

Actually that’s not quite true. One of the features of the mid to late Qing was skewed sex ratios in China’s rural areas, due in part to infanticide and a hypergamous marriage market. While there were many factors here, research by Philip Kuhn, Susan Mann, Matthew Sommer, and others argue that a major cause of instability in the mid- to late-Qing was the presence of so many unmarried, underemployed young males.

One might also recall another such society (The “Wild” West of US history) where the sex ratios were similarly skewed though for different reasons.

Thanks to tco and JXie, it seems that the discussion is taking a more intelligent tone. Let’s keep it up.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:16 pm | Comment

good post. there are a lot of people who are overly nationalistic, but when people post with an overly patronizing tone about anything it causes annoyance.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

Yeah. Every society represses its artists and AIDS activists…um, and branding is the most important issue facing China…and…then there’s Mingtian, to whom I just want to say, “tomorrow, dude!”

Jeremiah, you are doing such a great job countering this stuff that I don’t have anything to add. Except to say I find it interesting that none of these guys are responding to the environmental disaster thread below, where Chinese officials’ own words are more critical than anything you or I have ever posted.

And, yeah, we’ve lambasted our own government for its monumental failures, and we could draw much the same conclusions – who are the “America haters?” Not those of us who criticize actions and policies that go against our own best principles and hurt most Americans and others (Iraqis). The America haters are the people who have done these things, and those who blindly support them.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:31 pm | Comment

See how a single topic branches out and you started that many at once?

To name a few stable examples on top of my head: Argentina in its early days, San Francisco in its gold rush days, after all wars there were always oversupplied females, etc. To get back to my point about Hepatitis B. With HepB vaccine being available to a large percentage of the Chinese babies, plus girls’ increasing status, you may see the trend reverse soon.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:32 pm | Comment

As a Chinese american who was born in China, it saddens me that most Chinese seem to brush aside any constructive criticism of China. Wether due to their acceptance of the CCP or their national pride.

Its as simple as this I tell em, you can boast how rich you are and how powerful you are and continue to lie to yourself that you will rival the US in power in 10 years, while the West still not see you as an equal in any sense and still not respect you FULLY as an equal. As long as the CCP educates the post Tiananmen Square generation with nationalist propaganda based on China’s past humiliation as a way to teach China to reject western values then the West will always see you as spineless, moral less, politically opressed, cynical, empathetic, and boastful.

Chinese people seem not to understand the fundamental difference between the east and the west. Transperancy in government, individual rights, and government accountability. Not one that only lets you hear what they want you to hear, and a land where laws only exist in paper and dont apply to high ranking CCP members.

So as long as China (The CCP) continues to ignore constructive criticism and counters by restricting criticism and silencing opposition, they China will continue to pay for it ultimately in the end. As China continues to approach the environment, inequitable wealth distribution, and corruption half heartedly. Because by China destroying its own country it wont really hurt me, but China will pay for it one day. Its like my father really, if a repair or something comes up thats expensive, thus hard to for him to deal with, he much prefers to cut corners, go for the cosmetic band aid approach to everything. Much like the CCP. If it looks fine leave it alone, but often it looks bad but the CCP forces you to accept and live with it.

It also saddens me that many young Chinese my age, tend to equate criticism of the CCP to an attack on China. Government entities in western culture changes with elections, so policies, and directions change often, but in China the CCP is immortal and universal. So a criticism of the CCP is accepted as an attack on China.

But I often think of China as a guy you meet whos pretending to be really rich by having tons of jewelry but you can tell that hes only pretending because he looks and acts like a fool. China can pretend to be equal to the West but as long as you only focus on economic development and ignore everything else, then the West will never truely see you as an equal. As long as 10,000 miners die in Chinese coal mines a year and the Chinese public seems nonchalant about it then you cant expect foreigners to respect you when you dont value the lives of your own people.

February 21, 2007 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

David, may I ask how often do you go to China?

February 21, 2007 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

come on now, jxie, ad hominems are for trolls.

with regards to branding, i didn’t regard it as the most important challenge. the financial sector is the biggest challenge because its implications are the ones that will be most likely to occur and the ones that are most underestimated.

When I said “I get pissed at pigsun too” I meant that I dislike pigsun just like you dislike him; not that I dislike pigsun as I dislike you.

February 21, 2007 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

About the environment. My personal experience is large coastal cities are getting better gradually (though in winter you would hardly believe this), but interior cities are getting worse.

Environment is as apolitical as it can get, and the government officials are breathing the same air as you and I. We all know there is a major problem and many steps have been taken to alleviate it, but it will take a long time. The Dust Bowl’s cause was easily understood but it still lasted a decade. The variables in the Chinese environmental problems are far more than that of the Dust Bowl. This will be a long battle.

I hope the option is not going back to the Stone Age.

February 21, 2007 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Oh no, t_co. It just feels to me that David is somewhat out of touch of today’s China. That’s all. I could be wrong, but am curious.

February 21, 2007 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

HIV/AIDS is so important to Western countries because it’s one of the few transmissible diseases that Hollywood stars may die from and there is no cure yet. Americans have made a art out of moralizing the AIDS/HIV issue that any country which doesn’t take AIDS seriously are damned to be sin.

In reality, in developing countries like China, India, and Africa, the threat of malaria, TB and others are still killing more people then AIDS. But that’s ok because those diseases has been eliminated from developed worlds and the cure is simple. Malaria, TB and other are far higher priority for China then AIDS but how many articles/blogs have we seen on these issues?

If you really hate China, they should promote AIDS #1 priority!

February 21, 2007 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

Ah Mingtian, you are as whimsical as you are predictable. I’m only shocked it took you five whole hours to come up with it. You must be slipping in your dotage. – wrote Jeremiah.

Dear Jeremiah,

So sorry for the delay. There was a smell of Trotskyism in the air and I was trying to get rid of the stench. It must be a lefist-rat running around my kitchen. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch it. I’m not able to get around as fast as I used to. Please forgive.

Jeremiah said: “China IS following the American way and making many of the same mistakes that we have: giving economic growth priority over the rights of workers and environmental protections, mistreatment of minorities, immorality in foreign policy, runaway consumerism, and political apathy. It has taken us years to come out the other side . . .”

OK, quite a platefull.

Yes, China is giving economic growth a priority. What do you expect? China has 1.4 billion people who need to be fed, housed, and clothed. What are we supposed to do, wait for CARE packages the US used to give out?

It took the US and England over a hundred years to develop an industralize society. The funds that were necessary for this industrialization were based on accumulated wealth acquired from piracy, the slave trade, the destructions of the Irish commons, the Opium War, colonizaion of India, etc.

China does not have this luxury. China must use its only “comparative advantage” (at this time) which is cheap labor. It must become the “work shop” of the world in order to slowly acquire the means to develop its economy. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong all did the same.

However, China realizes that an economic model based on exports alone is not sustainable. China’s leaders are aware of this problem and are trying to find a solution.

You accuse China of neglecting the “rights of workers.” What do you wish China should do? Establish a minimum wage of $10 an hour? What good would that do? Foreign investment would immediately leave for Vietnam, Bangadesh, India, etc.

Yes, in the short-run Chinese workers bear the burden. However, in every developed country, this process was the same. America and England did not always have “workers’rights.”

Environmental protection is also a serious problem that stems from a rapid economic growth rate. ALL developed countries went through the same process. It was only twenty years ago that Japan was selling “air” to consumers because the pollution was so bad in Tokyo.

China’s leaders are fully aware of this problem and are making all attempts to control and eliminate polluting industries.

The “mistreatment of minorities, immorality in foreign policy, runaway consumerism, and political apathy, yadda, yadda, yadda, ” are nothing but a “red herring” (as Americans say) to distract from the accomplishments China has made in the last twenty years through her own hard efforts.

Chinese recognize the dishonesty and hypocrisy preached by so-called “friends.” You stand on the side-lines and attack and criticize China’s policies simply because we pick and choose what ideas from the West we think are suitable.

To apply the ideas, opinions, and views of Westeners and to do it at the speed they demand would create total chaos in China.

The stench of your ideas seem to be that of a political view long ago discredited.

February 21, 2007 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

Hey J.,

This is precisely the sort of thing I’d write after sitting down to beers and jiaozi with someone I considered a cool, dispassionate, cosmopolitan Chinese friend, only to have them blow up unexpectedly at one idle comment I make over a dice game. Was something like that the impetus for this post, or am I not even close?

That said, there’s someone I ought to forward this to. Eh, who am I kidding? He won’t read it.

February 21, 2007 @ 5:48 pm | Comment

David, the Chinese fellow in America – thank you for a wonderful first comment. There is a lot of good stuff in this thread, a lot of the usual “you don’t understand CHina” crap, and then some absolutely wonderful high points, like davesgonechina’s, many of Jeremiah’s rebuttals, and your comment. Please don’t be surprised as JXie and others make the only argument they know: You don’t understand China. And indeed, that’s exactly what Jxie said, (“How long has it been since you’ve been to China?”). I.e., you don’t really understand what it’s like.

I want to take a moment to shine a special spotlight on David Li’s comment above on AIDS, the one that starts with the charming and thoughtful observation, “HIV/AIDS is so important to Western countries because it’s one of the few transmissible diseases that Hollywood stars may die from and there is no cure yet.”

David Li, that comment was among the most noxious I’ve seen on this site. To deny the dangers of AIDS in China today – a danger created specifically by government ineptitude and dishonesty and incompetence in its money-for-blood programs of the 1980s – is to stab your own people in the back, and to distort the truth in a way that’s inexcusable. It’s akin to the government insisting there was no danger of SARS from January-March of 2003. Look at what AIDS did to Africa, and look at the huge sums of money the US and others have raised for treatment there (including George Bush, to be fair), and tell us we only care because of Hollywood stars who died of AIDS. And aside from Rock Hudson, whose last movie came out before you were born, what Hollywood stars do you have in mind? Speak up, we’re all waiting.

Jeremiah, I really can’t thank you enough for posts like this – I know how much courage it takes to lay your arguments on the line like this, knowing that the sharks are circling, waiting for the scent of blood, which your post delivered. Of course, if these sharks could for but a moment turn off their taped responses they would see that you are in no way attacking China and expressing nothing but love for their country. It is no surprise to any of us that those with small minds, those who are so insecure about the state of China’s position in the world, those who repeat canned slogans like the dancing chicken at the circus – it’s no surprise at all that these robo-commenters instantly chirp out loving words like:

With “friends” like you, who needs enemies?

It may surprise you but Chinese would not consider you a “friend” and your so-called “friendship” is not wanted.

Yes, that’s what you get for all your troubles. Congratulations for having the fortitude and the security in your argument to keep going. Watching you demolish the ignorant claims and the obtuse arguments is fun, but I also know how exhausting it is. So once more, thank you, and I’m only sorry I have class all day and work all night for the rest of this week.

February 21, 2007 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

Really Really, please don’t be absurd. There are lots of magnificent people here, and I mean lots. I want their success to continue, even if it means we have to put up with mingtian and the like. I would have to say China is very far away from imploding, and if you’re sitting around waiting, I hope you have a good book collection.

February 21, 2007 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

I don’t deny the danger of AIDS. From a personal perspective, I’d worry more about AIDS then TB or malaria. I can easily afford drug and treatment of TB or malaria and the likelihood of me getting either one of those are close to non-existence. However, I am personally scared of AIDS because the possibility of me getting it is much greater comparing to TB or malaria and there are no cure or vaccine for it yet.

Everyday in China, India, and Africa, there are more people dying of malaria or TB then people dying of AIDS in the world. The treatment is already available in the developed country; tho efficient delivery method still to be developed. Gates Foundation just put $800 millions into this without too much fanfare.

What kind of motivate for us to insist China to shift its health priority from much serious disease such as TB or malaria to the less serious one like AIDS. The out of proportional support for AIDS in term of researches and efforts in both developed and developing countries are born out of the selfishness of those of us already archiving a developed countries living standard. We can careless about people dying of TB or malaria because it’s not “our” disease but AIDS may be.

As for the Hollywood stars reference, it’s the fear of AIDS writ large. When was the last time you see stars wearing a ribbon for TB or malaria to an Oscar? When was the last time you see one having red ribbons?

Again, I am not downplaying the danger of AIDS but number wise, for Africa, India, and China, there are more serious epidemic to be contain. For those countries to shift resource from dealing TB or malaria to AIDS, it’s irresponsible governing. Look at what AIDS is doing in Africa? Look at what malaria and TB are doing there!

February 21, 2007 @ 7:19 pm | Comment


Thanks for the encouragement.

To answer Dave’s question in a way…yes. I was a little disturbed by the tone of some of the commentary on a recent thread about Chinese aid to Africa.

In terms of arguing these issues, you must remember, I have these sort of debates over breakfast every morning. Those of you have met YJ know that she is a CCP member and a law student who is both very intelligent, worldly, and quite the patriot. Much of the post’s original content was honed through discussions with YJ her friends and family. The arguments put forth so far are not even 1/10th as tricky as the brilliant and objective counterarguments and examples YJ brings to the breakfast table each morning. We don’t always agree but it’s always fun and we even sometimes change each other’s minds about certain things. (And in fairness, sometimes I’m forced to sleep on the sofa…never discuss Taiwanese independence after you’ve eaten the last piece of cake in the house. You’ve been warned.)

February 21, 2007 @ 7:41 pm | Comment

Fantastic post with equally insightful follow-ups, Jeremiah. I love it. Let me try.

If I hated China I would:

a) Promote rampant anti-Japanese/US/western sentiment at the slightest suggestion of an account of history that differs, however accurately, from our own. Do this from time to time even without the provocation of truth, such that the hatred of Japanese etc becomes coded into our DNA.

b) Instil the principles of denial in our children and base their education on teaching them what to think, rather than how to think. Encourage teachers to look the other way when their students are cheating or plagiarising.

c) Reinforce the concept of ‘face’ as an important social tool with which people/groups/businesses can justify lying to others. In this way, when we get found out we can claim ‘loss of face’ and demand reparations from our accusers – the very definition of a win-win scenario.

This is too much fun.

February 21, 2007 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

Frankly, I don’t totally agree with Jeremiah. Actually, most of the time, I argue with him about a lot of issues regarding China.

However, after reading his post and all of the comments, I couldn’t help wonder how China can become a great power (daguo). It is not only about the high-speed growth of the economy, the power of the military force or the right to decide whether the UN should send troops to Sudan. It is also about tolerance toward different religions and the courage to face different opinions, including criticism of China.

Why do WE feel so insecure about foreigners’ opinions? Is this patriotism or is it only about face?

As a Chinese, I know after posting this comment, I will be called a “Hanjian”, however, I believe that any open-minded Chinese who hopes for China to develop better than the United States, or at least does not want China to make the same mistakes as America, would think about what I have to say.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

What makes intelligent, know-it-all Americans leave “the-greatest-country-in-the-world” to come and live among “Selfish, single-minded peasants” in “a backwater with nukes”?

Yes, AIDS is a dangerous disease but the main source for its transmission is homosexuals and drug users. Control and monitor these two groups and you basically have AIDS under control. China should spend more time and money on TB and malaria. David is right, when was the last time the effete Hollywood set made any noise about malaria?

This post was very educational. It is obvious that many Americans come to China with their own personal demons: maybe they are gay; losers; racists; fat, weak, ugly men, or skinny, shy, retards, who cannot get a woman in their own country; unemployed or laid-off techies, etc. but it doesn’t matter. China has seen it all.

What China has accomplished in twenty years is quite remarkable. China “friends,” wait and see what we will do in the next ten to fifteen years. So continue with your insults.

The Chinese people will learn from you and eventually surpass you.

Thank you, China “friends.”

February 21, 2007 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

Thank you Mingtian for revealing your true colors and making my point for me far better than I ever could. Cheers.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

YJ wrote:

“It is also about tolerance toward different religions and the courage to face different opinions, including criticism of China.”

Absolutely. The struggle I have with some of my students with issues that show China in a less than favourable light have to be experienced first hand to be understood. Often there is a collective hush and the sense of shame is tangible. Then there are denials and the ‘what about the west’ arguments.

But, to their credit, especially if discussions are handled with a degree of tact (really, I can do that!), there are a few who will acknowledge and even support the non-mainstream view. So, while I agree that it remains very difficult for the Chinese (students, at least) to criticise China, the situation is improving.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

Really, Really Chinese:

Speaking on behalf of the blog, make a point or go home. Spewing vitriol without addressing specific comments is trolling. Consider yourself booked, next one will be a red.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

Don’t forget that it makes you feel self-important and otherwise people won’t come to your blog.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

I don’t care if your comments do, in some twisted way, “support” my position. Trolling is never welcome here. If you want, you can appeal to the commissioner. Until then…..Thank you for playing. Enjoy the red.

– J.

February 21, 2007 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

Please don’t be surprised as JXie and others make the only argument they know: You don’t understand China. And indeed, that’s exactly what Jxie said, (“How long has it been since you’ve been to China?”). I.e., you don’t really understand what it’s like.

Huh, Richard? My question was an honest question that is still awaiting its answer. There are enough good arguments from all angles. Sometimes you just need to emphatically read others’ viewpoints (and only the viewpoints expressed) to respond effectively. Stop raising a strawman and beating it down.

February 21, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

One humble suggestion: treat the viewpoints of the next Chinese or the next “Westerner” as the viewpoints from the first Chinese or the first “Westerner” you’ve ever known. Stop thinking, “oh, I know your kind…” This can be quite tiresome. To me, it’s like a date with a woman with some emotional trauma. Gosh, I am not all the men you have involved with.

February 21, 2007 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

Speaking of the issues, there is an interesting survey in the US just a while ago where 80% of Americans think there are serious problem with America, be education, environment, energy, economy and security. However, in the same survey, also 80% of Americans think they are doing fine. Interesting figure to show how frame of reference in one’s observation can affect the opinion. “America is falling behind in math and science and we are losing all the jobs to China/India!!! But hey, the school district my son goes to is good.” I think the same survey done in China would reflect just the same.

February 21, 2007 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Jreat post Jman.

Here’s one for the nationalists that will probably raise a little hell here.

China cannot take care of it’s own people or environment how can you believe that it will ever be a super power?

Don’t give me the it will take a long time BS either.

February 21, 2007 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

Mingtian : Yes, AIDS is a dangerous disease but the main source for its transmission is homosexuals and drug users. Control and monitor these two groups and you basically have AIDS under control.

Once more, you reveal your total ignorance, this time about AIDS in China.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:06 am | Comment

It’s sad for my answer to AIDS got highjacked by Mingtian. Almost as bad as the US HIV/AIDS aids to Africa got highjacked by the Christian Fundamentalist to cut funding for condom to promote abstinence. Condom is probably the most effect tool in preventing AIDS and Bush cut the funding for the program in Africa to pander to the Christian voters at home.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:37 am | Comment

“Yes, AIDS is a dangerous disease but the main source for its transmission is homosexuals”

no, it’s really not. worldwide, it’s reproduction i.e heterosexuals especially rapists who are disproportionately heterosexual.

“China cannot take care of it’s own people or environment how can you believe that it will ever be a super power?

Don’t give me the it will take a long time BS either.”

it tries. kinda. it’s always good when the international community puts pressure on china to be efficient and value the lives of its citizens; however, no one is receptive to a patronizing “you chinese” tone.

i think it’s noble when there is objective reporting done free of propaganda and misleading rhetoric; but unfortunately you really have to dig deep to find stuff that isn’t CPC controlled or tainted by blue team hysterics/post-modern ideology. specifics and citations are a major plus. at the very least specifications on what percent of gdp should be diverted where, highlights on inefficiency, etc are good for discussion.

the only way for China to immediately pull everyone out of poverty and solve all social problems would be for the entire upper class to take a vow of asceticism to fund efficient charity and perhaps for the entire population (including the elderly and children) to work/learn 16 hours a day.

either that or massive, massive international aid which will never happen because commies don’t have souls.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:41 am | Comment

You play a decent game of bait and switch. Make outlandish claims, and when confronted, move back to a more reasonable mid-line.

I believe anyone interested in the future of China would agree in the critical importance of dramatic improvements in environment, press freedoms, and certainly government transparency. If there’s anyone in China satisfied with the status quo on those 3 points, I’ve certainly never met them.

There’s a long way to go on all of those points, and anyone singing a critical (but hopefully constructive) counter-note is on solid ground.

But let’s review the passive-aggressive bluster you chose to lead off this thread with… (and if you had any intellectual honesty, you’d admit JXie nailed you accurately by describing these as “advices”)… when you choose to mix in criticisms of everything from the “one child policy” to the last two decades of economic reforms, from policies towards minorities to purported xenophobic… you’re done.

No one aware of China’s historical development and purports to “care” about China’s likely future development could share your positions on the above. What China has accomplished over the past three decades, welcomed by the vast majority of Chinese as something just short of a miracle, needs to be recognized as such.

Your criticisms of the policies that enabled this growth (especially contrasted with the stagnation and corruption that has defined the developing world since the end of WW2) suggests precisely the extreme myopia endemic of those who claim to “love” China while ignoring the pedantic needs of the every-day Chinese.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:45 am | Comment


“China cannot take care of it’s own people or environment how can you believe that it will ever be a super power?

Don’t give me the it will take a long time BS either.”

Calling it BS doesn’t make it so, nor does it “stir up” the nationalists. It just suggests your own unfamiliarity with history. China is a poor nation, something Chinese nationalists are ready to concede, but their critics are unable to understand.

China is unable to take care of her environment and her people because 60% of her population are rural farmers working the land by hand, and an equally large percentage have minimal education.

The Chinese are poor, just like the billions of other human beings that have been stuck in this quagmire of poverty for decades.

United Nations statistics have told the world time and time again that poverty has not diminished over the past 4 decades. India, Brazil, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa… economic growth is making minimal dents in the third world. Not all of these nations are failing because of willful mismanagement; there are other darker factors at play.

China has been one of the only bright spots for poverty alleviation, but even she still struggles to “take care of her people and her environment”. Only time, another 3-5 decades or so, could possibly give China the economic reserves to solve the problem.

February 22, 2007 @ 1:28 am | Comment

Good post from a historian! Thing is a lot of Chinese tend not to take any outside criticism well. As one commentator pointed, most people can’t distinguish the party and the nation. And your view about judicial independence in China clearly runs afoul of the very basic principle of the party. Just recently, in a judicial system meeting, Lou Gan almost labled people promoting judicial reform in China as hostile foreign forces.

February 22, 2007 @ 2:35 am | Comment

I am a Chinese student in US. I agree with Jeremiah on most of problems he pointed out.
IMHO, three essential steps are: acknowledge the problem, determine the strategies to solve them, formulate tactical polices and implement them. Basically pick the road, decide which direction and find means to reach the destination. Debates can happen in all three levels.

I will try to summarize mingtian and JXie’s arguments first.

First, one argument from mingtian is that because the US record is not exactly spotless, you do not have the moral high ground to preach me. Well, a good advice even from a “bad” guy is still a good advice. It certainly makes the advice seem less convincing, but remember the white cat and back cat? Facts and results count, not the person or the country who voiced it. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Secondly, mingtan makes legitimate points about we do realize these issues and have correct policies implemented to address them and the policies suggested by Jeremiah is too extreme. Leadership might have a better grasp with the issues, but I do not think local officials do, because most of them do not really care for obvious reasons. As to the policies implemented, I think we can definitely do a better job than the one we are doing right now. Try as I can, I do not find Jeremiah’s suggestions extreme. His suggestions are more or less general directions and not about detailed policies. Come on, you seriously think we can have a completely independent judicial system the day after tomorrow even if the CCP is all for it.

The third one is that all the current issues are unavoidable in the modernization process. Again, I agree with mingtian but we certainly can do better to greatly alleviate these pains. Jxie suggested some hypothetical situations about a completely press-free and democratic China now, and the chaos it will lead to. The problem is Jeremiah did not advocate extreme makeovers. And just like I said, that kind of society is impossible to attain in China for a foreseeable future anyway. The real questions are if we should move to a more democratic society, and how we should go about doing it, and are we doing enough.

The last challenge is for Jeremiah, which areas do you think the major problems lay? Do we not acknowledge the problems squarely, do we move to the wrong direction, or we got the first two right but the policies are not correct or the correct polices are not implemented fast or forcefully enough. Sometimes I do get offended when Americans say they know my country’s problems better than I do, although I am willing to discuss these issues with anyone.

February 22, 2007 @ 2:49 am | Comment

Just recently, in a judicial system meeting, Lou Gan almost labled people promoting judicial reform in China as hostile foreign forces.

Actually, LuoGan did not say it. Please see China Law Blog’s post entitled ” New York Times Gets Luo Gan Speech On China Courts All Wrong .”

February 22, 2007 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Shorter Mingtian: I know you are, but what am I? BWAHAHAHA, pwned!

More like Zuotian. Badoom ching!

@J: I thought of your previous mentions of YJ, but since I’ve never met her, she wasn’t here, and you hadn’t brought up, I demurred. But now she is and you did, so:

@YJ: “Why do WE feel so insecure about foreigners’ opinions? Is this patriotism or is it only about face?”

Indeed, you’ve pointed out something notable. Watch that slippery slope, though; don’t you think maybe part of the problem stems from this repetition of the mythical “WE”? I mean, look at David X.:

“Chinese people seem not to understand the fundamental difference between the east and the west. ”

And Black people seem not to understand showing up on time, and gay people seem not to understand morality, right? Honestly, what’s the difference between these three statements? None. All of ’em are bullshit.

February 22, 2007 @ 3:16 am | Comment


I think your comments are probably more fair than I could have managed. I will agree with most of what you have said, or at least your attitude.

But while Jeremiah has made a point with some statements, I believe others reflect a very unfair understanding of China.

In particular, I think:

– the positive aspects of the “one child policy” far out-weigh the negative aspects.

– the advantages of economic growth, even if it’s unbalanced, have been far greater than the negative aspects.

– his comments on “territorial sovereignty” reflects a naive view of history. The international community is not benevolent, and no one will protect Chinese interests except for the Chinese.

On a related note, I very much appreciate the excellent link above to the correct interpretation of Luo Gan’s speech.


February 22, 2007 @ 3:44 am | Comment

Don’t you think there is such a thing called
“too much parental advice”?

February 22, 2007 @ 4:32 am | Comment

It is not that Chinese can not take criticisms from other people. But if many of the advices people offer don’t seem to work well in your own sociaty (talks, and lots of talks, but nothing gets done), it will be hard to convince the Chinese to do things in your ways.

February 22, 2007 @ 5:50 am | Comment

10. I would stick to history!

February 22, 2007 @ 6:10 am | Comment

CCT, I actually agree with you re: the one child policy. It’s definitely had costs and unintended consequences, but I don’t know what a better alternative would have been.

February 22, 2007 @ 6:48 am | Comment


That’s what YJ tells me, too. (Actually, I think she called me “pompous, paternalistic, and pretentious.” All probably true enough.) I tend to agree with both of you, but sometimes things need sayin’.

It’s been a good, lively discussion about serious issues affecting China today. I couldn’t ask for more.

Great comments everybody.

February 22, 2007 @ 8:34 am | Comment

I just want to point out one thing that Jeremiah point out awhile ago. China needs to develop it’s own traditions of democracy and figure out how to deal with the problems it’s facing. From what I’ve seen China is facing a lot of problems that it’s wallpapering over with unrealistic promises of continued rapid economic growth. It seems to me that Chinese people fall into two groups, 1) those like 明天that argue that China has no problems, American and Europe were built on slavery and are going to collapse and everyone will realize how effective Chinese medicine is. The second group states that China has too many problems and they’ll never be fixed so the best thing to do is to either leave the country or make as much money as you can in the meantime. I’m curious if there is anyone in a thrid camp, those Chinese people who are thinking about how to solve China’s problems. I’d really like to hear from them.

February 22, 2007 @ 9:14 am | Comment

Let me echo Kenzhu’s suggestion. We’ve heard a lot about how Westerners shouldn’t try to impose their ideas on China. Fair enough. But I’ve yet to hear a series of proposals to fix China from those who criticize this post. Is this because none of the problems cited merit attention? Is it because commenters are satisfied with current CCP policies? Or are there in fact solutions yet to be suggested?

Nothing would make me happier than to hear fresh and constructive ideas on how to solve some of these problems while protecting the environment and the rights of the people.

February 22, 2007 @ 9:21 am | Comment

– his comments on “territorial sovereignty” reflects a naive view of history. The international community is not benevolent, and no one will protect Chinese interests except for the Chinese.

Referring to “Chinese interests” will not make Tibet and Taiwan into Chinese territory. Naive? We all know the results of the policies of the “real-men-decide-the-fate-of-nations” crowd: lots of expensive wars, and lots of dead people, and no human progress.


February 22, 2007 @ 9:24 am | Comment

I would suggest that “the proof is in the fixing.” No offense, but China being “broken” is sort of a tiring old trope, isn’t it?

February 22, 2007 @ 9:27 am | Comment


I want to thank you. You have been one of the more engaging and insightful critics on this post (as well as others) and I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments. I’m kind of in the middle of a massive “jiaozi bao-ing” project at the moment, but I jotted down some thoughts.

“the positive aspects of the “one child policy” far out-weigh the negative aspects.”

Since the first cohort of “only children” is just starting to mature, look for jobs, and attempt to start families of their own, we might not know all the consequences for some time. In the documentary Rise of China, one of the interviewees suggested that China could face a shortfall of nearly 40 million girls (roughly equivalent to the population of Spain) in the coming decades leading to a massive increase in the trafficking of women, abduction of brides, and prostitution.

That said, I think it’s fair to admit I’m with Lisa and I am not sure what my solution would be. However, several (ahem) thousand years of civilization and continuous culture and this is the best anyone could come up with? It should also be noted that China’s current population crunch was partially the result of past CCP policies in the 1950s and 1960s to rapidly increase the birthrate of Chinese. (Mao was big on “population as a sign of power.” Ironic of course because some of his policies also did a lot to reduce the population as well.)

– the advantages of economic growth, even if it’s unbalanced, have been far greater than the negative aspects.

I suppose that’s true if we focus particularly on urban areas. Even more so if we focus on Beijing and Shanghai. And then again even more so if we do our poll at the new Tiffany’s outlet in Beijing. But the idea of “Somebody has to get rich first or we will all be poor together” has, as its immediate intellectual ancestor, Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics. I suppose one’s view of this policy in China might depend, in part, on one’s opinion of Reagan’s economic policies. (And there are certainly many Americans who are supporters of such policies.) I’m not a Socialist. I believe in the market economy. But I think economic development needs to be done in a way that rewards the winners while not penalizing the losers to the extent that they are no longer able to access education or quality healthcare. This is something I strongly believe whether we are talking about Ningxia or North Dakota.

– his comments on “territorial sovereignty” reflects a naive view of history. The international community is not benevolent, and no one will protect Chinese interests except for the Chinese.

I think you may be overstating the extent of China’s isolation. It’s like YJ’s father who assumes every vegetable seller woke up that morning with the express purpose of ripping him off. But your point is noted, certainly the Chinese need to protect their own interests. But who will protect the interests of the Tibetans and the Uighurs? Are we to rest easy because the CCP is on the case?

February 22, 2007 @ 9:42 am | Comment

i was slightly disappointed in recent entries. i love your analyses last year or so when they were more critical and in depth. Now in someway…. recent entries seem to be more grudges than other…… love ur last paragraph…. best wishes with life

February 22, 2007 @ 10:43 am | Comment


China is not a poor country. It’s citizens may be poor, but with the largest cash reserves of any nation on this planet you can not call China poor.

If the central govt cared the slightest bit about the welfare of the average Chinese person or the environment they would use that money for social and environmental programs.

Is a space program really that important now???

February 22, 2007 @ 10:56 am | Comment


“Nothing would make me happier than to hear fresh and constructive ideas on how to solve some of these problems while protecting the environment and the rights of the people.”

An easy start would be with legislation that requires factories to install scrubbers, contain waste, and move away from burning coal. Ban dumping into rivers. Install perminent trash cans on every corner so people can stop throwing garbage on the ground.

That would be a great start, but you have to find some one who gives a damn. No one here gives a damn. People polute their neighborhoods with trash. Fishermen polute the water they earn their living from. Factories polute the skies, land and waterways to make a buck.
I’ve been in discussions with people that say they give a damn. The talk is good until we walk outside and the first thing they do is have a good spit and throw their trash on the ground.

February 22, 2007 @ 11:20 am | Comment


War represents the pinnacle achievement of human society. All progress derives from the mobilization of men and material driven by the single most important instinct, to survive.

At our heart of hearts, all men are collectivists and need for collective security and the proclivity for group dominance is a but a bare scratch and sniff sticker of liberalism under the surface.

February 22, 2007 @ 11:39 am | Comment


Ok, but why do you hate China?

February 22, 2007 @ 11:40 am | Comment


I was completely joking. My point was that — as you can surely see — most of these commenters simply ignore rational argument. You said something critical of China. End of story. You aren’t allowed to have any opinion of China beyond “I like China.” You can explain your motivations all day long — like you have — and they will just come back to, “You hate China.”

I thought your post was great. And as someone who has been on the receiving end of this many, many times, I know how discouraging it can be. I agree that it shouldn’t discourage us, but I admit I’ve gotten tired of it after 5 years of banging my head against the great wall.

February 22, 2007 @ 11:58 am | Comment

Hi Jeremiah, I am going to take a lead on your suggestion about ideas for reform. You mentioned lots of issues. It takes books to discuss all of them.

I will focus on democracy and first steps to nurture it. I will try to discuss it in a less ideological way, meaning I will talk about the government we have, not the government we want or wish to have.

First, whether you like it or not, the CCP is the only organization that is capable of governing the whole China for the foreseeable future, any sudden collapse of CCP will generate a massive turmoil we do not dare to imagine. Basically, I am against USSR style democratization.

Second, democracy is not an end to itself; it is rather a path to a more prosperous society with more liberty, justice, and opportunities for everyone. You will have a hard time to sell democracy as a virtuous ideal rather than a practical solution in China. The reason we choose the democracy is because it is the best possible solution available to make the local government officials accountable, to give the peasants more protections, etc, as Chairman Mao brilliantly discussed here (in Chinese) http://www.cqzg.cn/html/200701/514605.html.

Then people will ask you, if the democracy is so effective, how to explain the huge discrepancy between different democratic countries. After all, Europe, US and Japan are not the only democratic countries on earth. Well just like I said, democracy is a solution, like any other solutions, how well it works depends on if the conditions are right and how you implement it. I strongly recommend this book on this topic, http://www.fareedzakaria.com/books/index.html. “Democracy is not inherently good”, I 100% agree. With possible failures in mind, we should pursue it gradually and firmly. We should guard against two extremes: one is to declare we are already democratic or we are doing just fine on the political reform. Reading our history and Mao’s comments above more carefully will prove otherwise. The other extreme is somehow we should have a multi-party election soon. Being too slow and too fast will end up the same.

Third, there is no such thing as a “free lunch” or a “perfect plan”, we will pay our price on the path to a more democratic society. We need to plan it so as to make a chronicle pain rather that a sudden death. The general principles of reform should be from the easy to the difficult, or more bluntly, from policies that are more acceptable to CPP to the ones more “threatening” to the party.

Civil societies and judicial system are two essential conditions for democracy to work. Non-political civil societies should be first given more freedom. Training of the judges and lawyers and rights for the accused should be strengthened. I am afraid a complete judicial system is too hard for the government to swallow. So we can start with policies make courts less dependent on the local governments, though still managed by the provincial ones. It is like first working on all the parts of the car, and then when one day you let it go, it will work properly. Holding real competitive or at lest multi-candidate elections within the CCP is a very good first step, lots of party members are actually advocating this. Freeing press would have to take a slower pace because it is perceived as “vital”. You might cry appeasement. IMHO, these policies are viable choices currently.

I do not really have anything new here. Just a combination of ideas I got from others. The reason we should go democratic is not to destroy the CCP, nor to enhance our global image, but to make Chinese people live better lives.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:16 pm | Comment


(Who was responding to some comments I made by email)

Thanks for the clarification. As most people know, 88 is one of the best writers out there in the China blogosphere. His own posts about all kinds of seemingly innocent topics (including the famous “in-laws in America” story) have received the most bizarre and hateful vitriol. And part of my inspiration for this post came from reading some of those comments on 88’s blog.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:17 pm | Comment


Thanks for a great comment and some good ideas. I agree with you (and I said this earlier) that I’m not sold on the idea that American style democracy is suitable for China. I used to be, but YJ has turned me around on this. I agree that China needs to make its own way. (I’m thinking of that great quote by Lu Xun on how a road gets made.) I think your ideas regarding non-political civil society and increasing the independence of the courts are spot on.

How about this for a thought: Should the CCP just say, “Screw it. We’re holding elections in November. If you want, you can vote us out.” Would people do it? I’ve asked this question around to several friends in China, and the answers have been all over the place. I’m not sure they would. How effectively would the slogans “It’s Morning again in China” and “Are you better off now than you were 10 years ago” be? Would such slogans resonate in the countryside as well as the cities? Any thoughts.

February 22, 2007 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

Just one other point:

>>There would be no Zhang Yimou or Chen Kaige without the Cultural Revolution

This is surely the best argument advanced yet against the Cultural Revolution, no?

February 22, 2007 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

Hi Jeremiah, I have to first point out that you are talking about a highly unlikely event. hehe.

My answer to your question is, just like your observations, it depends. The people who will vote are the ones who are convinced they can get something out of it. Be it an economical one through policy change or a realization of their citizen right. Therefore I suspect if you talk to a peasant or migrant worker, they will be very interested in choosing their local leaders freely. Although I am not so sure they will be very keen to select a provincial or national leader. As to the urban dwellers, the worse offs will have more motivations than the better-offs.

The public trust of the government is so low now; this factor alone will turn off lots of voters. That is why I think we should put much more focus on painstaking institution building to build the trust. It is natural for most westerners to take the election as a threshold, but if Iraq has taught us anything, the election alone is far from enough.

Nah. The slogans you give are too American. I have one that will probably work better, something along the line of “better tomorrow for your children”. We devote enormous energy to our kids. City and rural people alike.

February 22, 2007 @ 1:05 pm | Comment


“War represents the pinnacle achievement of human society.”

So I guess the Japanese were one of the most successful people on the planet in the 1930s and 40s when they were burning Chinese cities to the ground – yes?

February 23, 2007 @ 12:55 am | Comment

Thanks for directing to China Law Blog regarding Lou Gan’s remarks. I wasn’t aware the NYC piece and didn’t know it has already caused a stir. I came across Gan’s talk on the internet, which is a more colloquial version and the tone agaisnt hostile forces was much sterner. I can’t find the link now. I hope somebody came across it, too. Please note the meeting was conducted back in November 06 and it was formally published on Seeking Truth magazine in Feburary. it’s also indicated that it’s been 略有删节 (slightly abridged). I don’t have access to NY Times so I can’t comment on if they misread Gan. Based on the Seeking Truth version, Gan mentioned hostile forces in atleast tree places. I’ll quote verbatin so you can see how Gan addresses the hostile forces issue.

1. 三要注重加
(Hostile forces attack and try to fundamentally change our judicial system)

2. 由于政法机&#
(Due to the irreplacable and important roles of legal
institutions, hostile forces always aim at these institutions when they implement their strategy to westernize and divide China)

So this is what he said. I’m sure this is not the only thing in his talk.

February 23, 2007 @ 1:39 am | Comment

Great post, Jeremiah. I haven’t been coming to the Duck in recent days so I’m behind on the comments, but I’ll get back to this post when I have some free time.

Personally, I think a corporatist democracy (a la Germany) would be more suitable to China’s current conditions than an American-style liberal democracy.

And, speaking as a Chinese reader, occasionally inflammatory condemnations of China do raise my hackles, but I try to keep in mind the old Fulbright quote: “Criticism is more than a right; it is the highest act of patriotism.” 🙂

February 23, 2007 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Wow. This blog and its comments consist of two kinds of people:

1. The leftist American/Canadian instigators, who “hates” (or “loves too much”) whichever country they actually live in, because it gives them the satisfaction of knowing “a little more truth” than the ignorant masses surrounding them. It’s a huge high to feel chosen and enlightened, isn’t it guys?

2. The fenqing (usually leftist also) Chinese, who take great *personal* offense at the worthless rantings of a leftist foreign blowhard with too much time on his hands. What happens usually is that the fenqing’s passionate response characterizes perfectly the pre-conceived ignorant masses that Person #1 feels already blissfully superior toward.

Nothing is achieved. No middle ground is obtained, nor new insight gained. Person #1 achieves the effect of a brain masturbation, and Person #2 achieves a virtual Ah Q slap in the face.

Seriously guys… do some community service with your free time instead. Say “Thank you” to your waiter and enjoy life whereever you may be. You will be less angry and vain, and probably more successful in school and business. And believe it or not, your respective country will become a better place to live in also.

— Just another Chinese passing by.

February 23, 2007 @ 2:42 am | Comment

The most likely path of peaceful democratic evolution in China would be an equal factioning of the Communist Party itself, into perhaps two parties or two “sub-parties.” Publicly, this is still unlikely to happen soon, by the way.

No one else right now has the capability of ruling the country without creating massive power vacuums and economic instability. No, Peking Duck, you don’t have what it takes.

Every leftist (foreign and Chinese) has a zealous desire to be part of a new revolution that they will experience in their lifetime. But rarely do the revolutionaries plan for what comes after the fact. Iraq War is a good example. BTW, I consider Neoconservatism fundamentally a leftist ideology; this is quite apparent when you remove the thin coatings of neoclassical economics from their ideology. Many Neocons were diehard leftists during the Cold War anyway.

Context is important in criticism, when you criticise without context, you become an idiotic revolutionary: a great idea but no working plan. Let China find its own voice. It might take time and you might not like everything you hear, but progress will be made in China’s own context.

February 23, 2007 @ 3:23 am | Comment

Mr. Yin,

You make a few good points. Did you ever consider, though, that if you wrote the same exact post under the moniker “Mr. Smith” and you happen to be American, you would be alternately attacked as anti-Chinese, paternalistic, a CCP-hater, FLG worshipper, a “leftist,” etc., etc.? THAT was Jeremiah’s point. Some people can’t seem to separate a person’s ideas from their national identity.

One other point:

>>. Iraq War is a good example. BTW, I consider Neoconservatism fundamentally a leftist ideology;

This is the part where I say to you, “It’s a huge high to feel chosen and enlightened, isn’t it?” Does it give you satisfaction to know “a little more truth” than the ignorant American masses?

I guess I won’t say that to you, though, because that would be absurd, wouldn’t it? It would be absurd to attack your ideas on the basis of your nationality. Or maybe it is only absurd when non-Chinese use that kind of argument. (?)

I might also point out that your grouping of anything you don’t like under the rubric “leftist” is beyond straining. A Chinese “leftist” is entirely different from an American “liberal” — in fact, you probably would have a hard time finding two groups of people who disagree more when it comes to Chinese politics, human rights, democracy, etc. The American left is much closer to the Chinese right.

February 23, 2007 @ 4:15 am | Comment

except left-right dichotomies are too simplistic imho for analyzing politics in any country…

February 23, 2007 @ 6:01 am | Comment

88, I like your posts. But you are absolutely wrong in saying “the American left is much closer to the Chinese right.” That’s a basic mischaracterization of Chinese politics, or perhaps it stems from your confusion of the dichotomy between left/right with the dichotomy between liberal(reformist)/conservative. They are not the same things, and I was talking about the former not the latter.

The reason I group everything as leftist here is that after skimming through some ten dozen comments on this site, it’s blatantly obvious that the majority of foreigners who post here are left-of-center. Which is all good and dandy, but the ideas you guys freely spew can still potentially be very disastrous for China.

Deng Xiaoping said it very well in 1992: “leftism remains the main dangerous tendency inside the CPC.” I actually don’t have a problem with leftism outside of China, the problem is that leftist ideas are spouted by some foreigners without any consideration that China is STILL a Communist country, and so is far more likely to be aversely affected (as in taken to the extreme) by leftist ideas than countries from the West. It is far easier for China to take basic leftist ideology overboard than to swallow neoclassical right-wing ideology. Even in today’s China. The left-wing China Youth League and its fenqings remain a potentially destabilizing segment of Chinese society. Today’s China doesn’t need prostitutes shamefully marched down the street like certain leftists ordered in Shenzhen to control the “excesses” of right-wing economic policy. China doesn’t need a Cultural Revolution II or red guards in the manifestation of fenqings, alright?

The People’s Republic of China prospered under right-of-center or centrist administrations, but have consistently gone to all hell and near anarchy under leftists (including conservative leftists).

So think hard about the possible implications of one’s ideas in the context of China, before being so gungho certain about them. Don’t feed the Commies.

February 23, 2007 @ 7:50 am | Comment

For example, a passionate leftist cry for equality in the developed West is met with snickering by 50% of the population. But the same cry can devastate China and take China right back to the 1960s.

The difference is that in the West, right-wing ideas such as property rights are fully protected by law. But China is still Communist where right-wing ideas are not solidified in law, but rather used in an ad hoc way. Secondly, the majority of people in China have yet to benefit equally from the economy boom (though they will eventually) and can still be easily led by leftist slogans and charismatic personalities.

So you liberal Americans, think before you say stupid things. Think about the Chinese context of your ideas. Who doesn’t want equality? But is shouting for equality at the top of young lungs the best course of action in obtaining TRUE equality for China right now? It’s highly doubtful, ain’t it?

February 23, 2007 @ 8:19 am | Comment

You’re right, Mr. Yin:

It’s much better to keep silent. Because that’s always been a force for a change. Tyranny’s best weapon is to instill the belief that “nothing can be changed, so why bother trying?”

February 23, 2007 @ 9:09 am | Comment

Mr. Yin, can you elaborate on “[b]ut the same cry can devastate China and take China right back to the 1960s.”? I don’t understand this. The cultural revolution wasn’t about free speech; it was about political infighting. Why will free speech destroy harmony in China? Is it because Chinese culture isn’t strong enough to withstand debate?

February 23, 2007 @ 10:25 am | Comment

…and while your at it Mr Yin, perhaps you could explain this one to me:

“the problem is that leftist ideas are spouted by some foreigners without any consideration that China is STILL a Communist country”

China still a communist country? The party might use the name (another denial, I guess) but it’s hardly a doctrine enshrined in the hearts and minds of either the leaders or the people.

February 23, 2007 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Mr. Yin,

I’d say you are the one conflating and confusing American liberalism with Chinese leftism. The idea that most American liberals have much in common with Chinese fenqing leftists is absurd. That doesn’t mean that they have nothing in common, however. For example, they are both critical of the CCP. For the same reasons? Hardly. Most people posting here criticize the CCP for its record on democracy and human rights, etc. The Chinese left generally criticizes the CCP for not being communist enough.

I think you could make the case that European leftists have something in common with Chinese leftists, however. Why is that? Because “leftism” in the sense you mean (i.e., true believers in Marxism, socialism, and communism) actually exist in Europe. They barely exist at all in the US. As you said, the context is important. The bulk of the American left are more like the Tories in the UK. This is why I would say that the American left is closer to the Chinese right: they both believe in markets, reforms, and are generally pro-democratic.

When you say “leftist” you are probably describing someone like Roland of ESWN, someone who (in my opinion) still believes in the project of socialism if not communism. His criticisms of the CCP are generally that they aren’t “left” enough, at the expense of the poor. I’d say the American left would generally say that the CCP isn’t right enough.

Also, I’d be careful when you group everyone around here into a neat category like “leftist.” In terms of American politics, I’d call myself an independent conservative, and I’m sure there are others of us around here who are far from “leftist” in any context.

February 23, 2007 @ 11:41 am | Comment

Mr. Yin, the Chinese and American “left” have have nothing in common.

The American left (center left Democrats) while it may fall short at times, (certainly no shorter than the American right) believes in rule of law, an independent judiciary, private property, free market capitalism and common sense government regulation where the free market can’t do the job.

The American left believes in being fair, open minded, tolerant of and even embracing of ideas, cultures and ways of life different from our own. The American left does believe in using government power to ensure equal opportunity, equitable political representation, equal access to education and equal treatment under the law and the redistribution of comparitively small amounts of wealth to keep the least disadvantaged members of our society from starving and freezing to death because that’s the right thing to do.

Because of these things, I am a proud “card-carrying” member of the American left.

With the possible exception of redistributing wealth, which they would take far beyond what any American “lefty” would consider reasonable, the Chinese left believes in none of the above.

Don’t lump us into the same group as ignorant dictators, it’s offensive.

February 23, 2007 @ 11:54 am | Comment

This blog isn’t worth reading anymore.

February 23, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

KENZHU WROTE: “The cultural revolution wasn’t about free speech; it was about political infighting.”

The Cultural Revolution was about political infighting battled through the mobilization of radical youth groups, which served as the pawns of these various political forces. Surely you know this.

STUART WROTE: “China still a communist country? The party might use the name (another denial, I guess) but it’s hardly a doctrine enshrined in the hearts and minds of either the leaders or the people.”

Yes, China is STILL Communist. China’s laws do not protect the right to property of individual citizens nor private businesses. This is a critical difference between the West and China, and because the Chinese state remains nominally Communist, it is more at risk to radical thought than the developed West. What I mean is that radical leftism can at times become “sanctioned” by the Chinese state and run rampantly out of control. If you think there isn’t a large segment of society that is still highly sympathetic to Communism, you obviously haven’t explored China enough.

JEREMIAH WROTE: “Tyranny’s best weapon is to instill the belief that ‘nothing can be changed, so why bother trying?'”

You missed the point, which isn’t a call for no change or silence, but rather a call for understanding the importance of context in China, of being prudent of the various politics at play in China, and not inadvertently siding for a group that is ultimately against your interest. When you enter a room, listen to the existing discussion, before trying to relate your political philosophy with what you think is your closest equivalent.

For instance, I remember clearly when Hu Jintao came to power, that the NYTimes, LATimes etc heaped praise upon praise on the man. Anyone who truly understood Chinese politics at the time knew immediately that Hu Jintao’s leftist ideas would mean more censorship and attempts at state control. The man rose to power from the Communist Youth League for christsakes. How could the Western media be so blind at the time?

You don’t go about beating one tyrant by siding with another tyrant. Empowering Shi’ite Islamic fundamentalism in place of Sunni Baathism is another example of such stupidity. Perhaps you’d also like to think of the Iraq quagmire as “At least we tried for change”? That’s not mature and responsible thinking.

88 WROTE: “[leftists] barely exist at all in the US. As you said, the context is important. The bulk of the American left are more like the Tories in the UK.”

Um… Universal health care? Trade tariffs and protectionism (economic nationalism) against China? Minimum wage increases? Are these not leftist platforms? 88, I know there are large differences between American left and China’s left. I did not mean to downplay those differences (hell, their differences has been a major point of my argument). What I mean to say is that the Chinese left, however conservative and mutated, is still fundamentally based on leftist politics and thereby potentially influenced by them in its own weird way. Such as my “call for equality” example. The results are unpredictable, and caution needs to be taken that a good idea does not transform into radicalism. Tell me in the last 50 years, when has leftism been good for China? Obviously there is some dynamic in China that makes leftism particularly vulnerable to radicalization. And this point should not be casually ignored.

February 23, 2007 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

Mr. Yin,

Thank you for your comments and welcome to the conversation.

“When you enter a room, listen to the existing discussion, before trying to relate your political philosophy with what you think is your closest equivalent.”

And there it is–the “you don’t get China, how dare you discuss her” response that we’ve heard a so many times on this site. It’s the kind of “Us” and “Them” Chinese exceptionalism that prevents real discussion. You’ve made some excellent points thus far, Mr. Yin, rely on the strength of your arguments and please refrain from using such a tired and, frankly, banal defense.

February 23, 2007 @ 12:56 pm | Comment

>>Um… Universal health care? Trade tariffs and protectionism (economic nationalism) against China? Minimum wage increases? Are these not leftist platforms?

Short answer: No.

You use the word “leftist” in so many different ways that it really means whatever you want it to mean. You have to be specific and pay attention to the context, which you keep telling everyone else to do but then avoid it completely yourself. Example: is “economic nationalism” a “leftist” position? Well, in what country? The conservative party in the UK opposed the common currency precisely on the grounds of economic nationalism. Most Tories aren’t calling for the dismantling of the universal health service, either.

In any case, the quantum leap you are taking from supporting minimum wage increases in probably the most conservative western democracy (the US) to SUPPORTING COMMUNISM and cultural revolutions is beyond absurd.

>>Tell me in the last 50 years, when has leftism been good for China?

Straw man. Who is arguing that “leftism” has been good for China? Maybe a few of the commenters here, like Mingtian, perhaps, no one else — if by “leftism” you mean “communism.” If by leftism you mean individual liberty, capitalism, human rights, the rule of law, and democracy, then you need to look up the word “leftism” in a dictionary.

February 23, 2007 @ 1:10 pm | Comment


Thanks for the follow up.

Since “Seeking Truth” Magazine is the official mouthpiece of the CCP, I think the published version is a good indicator on where the party stands. And since this speech was made by a top party law and order official, I would be surprised if hostile forces (foreign or domestic, which he did not specify) went unmentioned.

However, we should be careful to not take things out of context. The whole speech is over 11 thousand words long and LuoGan used the term ‘hostile forces’ only 4 times. In contrast, he used ‘reform’ 13 times and ‘harmonious society’ 46 times. The gist of his speech is not about labeling “promoting judicial reform in China as hostile foreign forces”. It is about, as CLB pointed out, “the need to protect the rights of the people in order to achieve the goal of harmony and stability.”

February 23, 2007 @ 2:26 pm | Comment

i’m on a break at school – must be brief. this use of ‘leftist’ as an umbrella term to dump virtually everyone with whom you disagree, mr. yin, and then condemning them for being part of this group (never mind that it exists only in your mind) – well, let’s just say it’s simply a rehash of the ‘you have no right to complain about china’ slogan we see here every day, only more intellectually dishonest than the usual chant, founed on so many falsehoods and half-truths and sloppy thinking

February 23, 2007 @ 2:54 pm | Comment


The People’s Republic of China is a poor country period. Take the immense foreign reserves held by the Chinese central bank, divide by 1.3 billion people. You end up with a very small per capita number, yet again. Although the PRC has come a long way over the past 20 years, China remains a poor developing nation.

I’m always struck by the fact that most Chinese are more than willing to recognize that fact (even as we optimistically hope we’ll move past it soon)… while others outside of China seems unaware of that standard. Stop comparing China’s social and economic status with that of the developed West; compare us to the developing nations of Brazil, India, Mexico, and even sub-Saharan Africa.

February 23, 2007 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

@Mr. Yin,

Hu Jintao + core is undoubtedly a representative of the neo-leftist movement in China. The very socialist movement towards equality has led to the elimination of agricultural taxes, and the removal of heavy state investment from booming coastal provinces into rural non-productive regions. And the last 3-4 years have proven Hu + core’s abilities to balance the needs of rightist development with leftist socialism very well.

The “context” of China’s Communist legacy is *not* a uniformly negative one, at least within the eyes of the vast majority of Chinese.

February 23, 2007 @ 3:47 pm | Comment


You may have read Gao’s comments to the Western press today, in which she proclaimed her belief that her recently approved passport proves China’s political progress over the past decade.

You may have also read the overwhelmingly positive verdict given to the Chinese governments campaigns to control the spread of HIV as published in the Lancet, a UK-based peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Will you generate a blog giving the Chinese government appropriate recognition on the two above accounts? And if you were to do so, will it be unreserved applause, or will it be a cynical reminder of what is left unachieved?

Back to the other specific policy points you mentioned above.

– first, the “one child policy” in my opinion is an overwhelmingly successful program. Urban China is seeing very high college-attendance rates (anecdotally, 50% of kids graduating Chinese high schools can receive some university training). And although post-graduation employment rates remain a challenge, this is clearly a transitory phase.

The current generation of young Chinese are the highest “quality” we’ve seen in the history of China. This is a remarkable accomplishment, and the credit belongs squarely to the “one child policy”.

We can discuss the perceived negative aspects of the “policy” in more detail later, if you’d like. I’ll just quickly say I believe they’re all grossly exaggerated or inaccurate… not understanding the substance of the “one child policy” in rural China, over-emphasizing the dangers of a gender gap and/or demographic gap (“aging” China), etc.

– on the economics distribution issue, it’s an absolute gross and unfair exaggeration to claim that rural China has declined over the past two decades. It’s fair to say that rural China has been “left behind”, in the sense that urban China has grown faster… but the quality of life in rural China itself has improved at an absolutely amazing rate over the same time period.

Expressways, electricity, mobile phones now reach deep into rural China. Education is now available to a far greater % of rural Chinese than at any other time in Chinese history. Life expectancy is rising, despite transition difficulties with the medical system.

I too could add to a long list of failures/challenges in rural China… but I’ll repeat my mantra of before: China is a poor developing nation. We have the same problems any poor developing nation has. But before you criticize China overly on that account, and certainly before you focus on the “gap” between poor/rich…

… keep in mind that even poor farmers in Guizhou are living a higher standard of living today than I had growing up in an eastern Chinese city in the 1980s. That is an unbelievable accomplishment.

– finally, on the issue of national sovereignty… as far as I’m concerned, Uyghurs and Tibetans are Chinese. My interests are their interests; their interests are my interests. They represent a cultural/racial minority in China, and this too represents challenges *any* nation (even the developed ones in the west) should easily recognize.

Do you spend a lot of time wondering whether the “white” government in Washington DC is trying to serve the interests of the “non-American” black community? Or would you just like to see the United States do better for all of her people, regardless of race?

That’s certainly how I feel about China. Just as many American liberals hope to see Obama win the 2008 Presidency, I look forward to the day where a Tibetan-Chinese will serve as president of the People’s Republic of China. And when that day comes, I hope he/she will have the wisdom to protect the interests of all Chinese… regardless of skin color or religion.

February 23, 2007 @ 4:03 pm | Comment

There is no denying that wonderful things have happened in China since the disasters of Mao were undone, though the Tiananmen Square “incident” did cast a semi-permanent shadow on the government’s achievements (and should make the list of what those who hate China would do). This blog has acknowledge many of these things and has paid tribute to Hu’s foreign policy prowess and sheer determination many, many times. How much many of the wonderful things that have happened can be attributed to the CCP is highly debatable, but these things did happen under their watch so they have to be given some of the credit. With that in mind, nearly everything in Jeremah’s post remains valid. All of those items, with the possible exception of the one-child policy issue, are correct. You can say they did this good and this good and this good, and still those monstrosities Jeremiah highlighted remain.

We have to look at the whole picture, as some of you like to say. I reported Gao Yaojie’s house arrest and her release. She may have praised the CCP, but she also expressed dismay and criticism over her harassment. I have actually been criticized recently as a shill for the CCP because I am too soft on them and have been mainly praising them since I returned to China. But we have to keep our sense of balance and the big picture. The party leaves a lot of things in its wake, not just joy and gratitude, and we need to cal them on it, just as we do the same for Bush in America.

February 23, 2007 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Mingtian, I have given you a lot of latitude. Look at Jxie and other commenter shere – many others. They disagree but they don’t make it their business to constantly insult their host or others here. And if they do take offense and fight, they have so far done so within the realms of civility. I am tired of giving you a platform and always finding you attacking me and others for it. From day one you have come in here with both fists swinging, trying to get others upset and off-subject. No more.

This blog is basically an American exchange of pseudo intellectualism, philosophical metaphysics, and Chinese chop-suey.

I didn’t open this site to be insulted. You are no longer welcome, as much as I tried to accommodate you in the past.

Write to me if you want to discuss it. I am a really nice guy but you’ve exceeded the limits. I don’t care what your viewpoint is – many here are more fanatical about politics than you. It’s a matter of tone and intent- the others are smart enough to stick to the issues without trying to constantly find “gotcha” moments to make others look bad. Think about it, and if you are willing to abide by these very loose and simple rules, let me know. Thanks.

February 23, 2007 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

CCT Said: “on the economics distribution issue, it’s an absolute gross and unfair exaggeration to claim that rural China has declined over the past two decades.”

Where did I say that? Please read and quote accurately. I was referring to issues of access to education and quality medical care since the dismantling of the social safety net in the rural areas and that ain’t exactly news. This has been a source of ongoing concern both inside and outside the PRC.

CCT said: “As far as I’m concerned, Uyghurs and Tibetans are Chinese. My interests are their interests; their interests are my interests.”

You might want to check with the Tibetans and Uighurs on this point. There seem to be quite a few who disagree with you.

CCT said: “Do you spend a lot of time wondering whether the “white” government in Washington DC is trying to serve the interests of the “non-American” black community?”

ABSOLUTELY I do worry about the US government’s treatment of the black community. Any thinking person would, especially in the wake of the Katrina disaster. Check the archives of this blog for more on this point. As we’ve had to explain too many times, this blog is far more critical in tone of the Bush administration than of the Hu administration.

As for Dr. Gao, Richard updated her situation this week and I commented that it was “great news.” Now, let’s see if they actually allow her to go when the time comes.

CCT Said: Finally: “I look forward to the day where a Tibetan-Chinese will serve as president.”

I couldn’t agree with you more, but I’ll tell you what: Let’s see which has a better chance of happening: An African-American being elected president of the United States or an ethnic Tibetan being appointed Chairman of the CCP. If the latter happens first, I’ll dance through Tiananmen Square singing “Dongfang Hong.” You’ve got my word.

If the former happens first, I’ll see you down at the Lincoln Memorial for a rendition of “American the Beautiful.” I’ll even teach you the lyrics. Deal?

February 23, 2007 @ 7:04 pm | Comment


“Will you generate a blog giving the Chinese government appropriate recognition on the two above accounts? And if you were to do so, will it be unreserved applause, or will it be a cynical reminder of what is left unachieved?”

There is no shortage of unreserved applause for the Chinese government in the People’s Daily and all other Chinese media outlets. What is in short supply is critisizm for what is left unacheived due to Chinese government policy.

“first, the “one child policy” in my opinion is an overwhelmingly successful program”

Yeah, I might be able to give you that one.

“I’ll repeat my mantra of before: China is a poor developing nation. We have the same problems any poor developing nation has. But before you criticize China overly on that account…”

I don’t think anyone here is criticizing China for having the problems of a developing country, I think we’re criticizing China for some of the brutal, short-sighted and morally repugnant attempts to solve these problems. Again, I sense a little “you said something bad about some aspect of China’s government, therefore you hate China.” in this comment.

“as far as I’m concerned, Uyghurs and Tibetans are Chinese”

It is a shame that they disagree with you. It is also a shame that you seem to consider your opinion to be so much more valuable than theirs. I have to say, this comment does look a lot like Han Chauvinism.

“Do you spend a lot of time wondering whether the “white” government in Washington DC is trying to serve the interests of the “non-American” black community? Or would you just like to see the United States do better for all of her people, regardless of race?”

It’s not “either, or.” We spend a lot of time worrying about both. The comparison is bogus anyway. Blacks are Americans. People regard them as Americans and they feel they are Americans. That’s one thing that makes racism against black people in America so unjust. Blacks know that it’s their country too.

Tibetans and Uighers are not Chinese and have no desire to be Chinese. If you think they do, you’re dreaming. At best they tolerate being occupied by a foreign power and at worst they engage in acts of terrrorism against that power.

” I look forward to the day where a Tibetan-Chinese will serve as president of the People’s Republic of China.”

I praise your open-mindedness but you’d better hope it doesn’t happen considering your previous statements. The first thing he’d probably do is move for real Tibetan autonomy.

February 23, 2007 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

“Yes, China is STILL Communist.”

Really, Mr Yin? Whatever happened to the bit about controlling the means of production on behalf of the people, who are all treated equally?

I think you need to re-read ‘Animal Farm’

February 23, 2007 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

Time to move on, guys. Thanks to everyone for a most interesting thread.

Special thanks to Stuart and Iron Buddah for their last comments. Well said.

February 23, 2007 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

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