Whither China II

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George Victor
Whither China II

I cannot wait to hear Sean's and Ryan's responses to Liang Jiajie's last missive, which is so very enlightening. 

George Victor

L J :

September 27, 2010 - 12:54am #101 (permalink)

 

"Sean in Ottawa -- Good point in your second paragraph, but we have to question Beijing's sincerity at political reform.  In the 1980s, Beijing transferred some responsibilities to the provinces, but it hasn't been enough.  The consequences of Beijing's insistance on unitary governance of such a large population spread out over such a large territory -- corruption at every level of government and the disregard of national laws -- aren't being resolved despite two decades of harsh punishment, including executions, directed at corrupt officials.  Underlying this is Beijing's fear of its own citizens and the citizens' mistrust of government officials and their lack of confidence in Beijing's competence in problem-solving.  Beijing has also been slow moving towards some form of democracy.  Actually, it hasn't moved at all since 1990 when Beijing approved village-level elections in a few provinces.  It was announced as an experiement and it's still considered as such 20 years later.

Paragraph four is a slippery slope.  I accept that different regions of the world face different challenges and so have different priorities, but the logic of paragraph four is often used by Chinese officials to stifle real human rights in China.

Ryan1812 -- What do you mean when you say that Canada is moving inward?  It's odd that you refer to sovereignty as a 19th century (or earlier) phenomenon since much of the world at that time was under imperial rule.  It seems that as those empires fell and their peoples increased interaction with others while establishing their nation-states, their desire to protect their cultural, economic, and territorial interests only increased.  I refer to the failure of the Leage of Nations, the Security Council, the Balkans in the 1990s, former Soviet states in eastern Europe and Central Asia, China as an emerging communist state and then as developing modern state."

 

Sean in Ottawa

There is nothing for me to disagree with in terms of what is being said here.

I'll quote my fourth paragraph so the context is here:

"Another important point is that the Chinese economic and political culture is in fact so different that if you arrive at a system through practical experiment, there is no reason to presume that the Chinese system will look that much like what we have here. And we need to recognize that we will have to avoid trying to rank one as better or worse-- even if we could determine which was better for our people or theirs, we might never be able to determine which could be better overall since the contexts for the systems are so different."

I do recognize that the Chinese government uses the same point I made. The reason they use it is because it is true. There is a real danger when considering another country's system to add value judgments from your own and assumptions about what is practical or even desirable from your own.

The concern LJ raises is also valid. And it is a sad fact on our small planet that the concern is not just one that should be shared by Chinese people as these developments can have an impact on everyone in the world. I do not have any illusions that would have me trust the Chinese government, although I speak from a perspective that does not trust my own government. I think individuals here are somewhat safer for a number of reasons and I think there is more room for public expression of dissatisfaction here even if it does not always make a difference.

In order to have a workable system you need some kind of accountability for those making the decisions. China lacks enough of this. (For those who want to jump on me for saying so consider that the current Premier and the current President have themselves both acknowledged this in the last few months). The lack of accountability leads to corruption as well as bad decisions and inertia. My point though is that we should not presume that our own version of accountability (which has mixed results here) is the best one for China or the only one they should consider. However, the need for greater accountability is needed there. Since it is also needed here, I spend more time on ours than I do on theirs but I am also very interested in theirs because it is on the one hand coming from a different context and culture and it is being developed now so we might expect a different perhaps refreshing perspective. I also have more Chinese contacts than Canadian at this point in my life so I really care about what happens there and many of the people I can talk to about things are Chinese.

By accountability we also mean a free and independent media-- not just able to report on political events even if that is obvious but also ideas in a more general sense. What might set China apart from Canada is that ours is getting worse and it seems theirs is getting better. Still they have a long way to go by most accounts. This is something that many here understand is so important since it is such a struggle here (central control of media messages). Although the forces are different it is there as well. Also there is, more there than here, an underlying self-censorship where people do not talk about things that "are dangerous."

Now as bad as our government here can be-- they can be fired and they fear each opportunity we have to send them packing. The Chinese political class, is concerned about what people think but does not appear to have the same immediate fear of the people. Indeed, I understand there is much more fear of each other than of the public-- not a good environment for public accountability.

As well, there is a public fear, bordering on paranoia some claim, of what democracy could bring to China. China has no united democratic history and it has had significant unity problems. There is a perception that democracy is nice but the great Chinese state can not survive it. The Chinese are very aware of their minorities, tensions, competing interests and resentments. They do have cause to wonder if a country like China can stay together when the only thing holding the country together is will of the people. And there are Chinese who value the presumption that force is required to keep the country together, to keep it functioning and to keep it rising (which is almost a national obsession). There is a very deep and powerful nationalist undercurrent in even Chinese people who claim not to be political (that I know).

Now I am sharing perspectives from people I know and there is good reason to wonder just how representative they are.

The Chinese are not at all trying to hold on to what they have-- they want to see improvement and most Chinese I speak to talk of this even as they come from very different perspectives. I have friends who hate the Chinese government, others who hate politics and others who are very much a part of the ruling Communist party apparatus (something that itself is not as monolithic as some people think it is).

In the middle of this I have observed huge generation gaps. The Chinese I know for the most part do not acknowledge this directly but you hear it in their comments and perspectives and just how different the outlook is between someone in their 20s and someone in there 40s, 50s or 60s. I see this much more than among Canadians here. I think this is due to obvious reasons as their society is in much faster transition than ours.

I would say that unless you speak to a good many Chinese people you can't have a Chinese perspective-- there is no single perspective-- given various huge differences in how different ages, backgrounds, vocations and political positions think.

And ironically, I have found the Chinese very interested in the national project at one point but many are almost not concerned with the public welfare beyond the "pride of China" visions. I have found this odd. It interferes with the development of accountability for human rights issues since most Chinese I speak to do not want to discuss people who have run in trouble of the state.

I am not trying to make a single point here but at least to expose some of what I know from a number of people.

The issues LJ raises are extremely important but the solutions are not simple I think since I cannot see transplanted North American/European ideas as fitting in very well even in the areas of the greatest weaknesses for China. And these are exciting and interesting times for China with outcomes as yet unpredictable.

On the positive side there is much enthusiasm and in some respects an openness greater than the norm here for new ways, new ideas. China is magnificent but I have to agree with LJ, a whitewash of its challenges is not in its interest or ours but neither is latter day imperialism and there is a fine line from our perspective at moments on this.

Liang Jiajie

As well, there is a public fear, bordering on paranoia some claim, of what democracy could bring to China. China has no united democratic history and it has had significant unity problems. There is a perception that democracy is nice but the great Chinese state can not survive it. The Chinese are very aware of their minorities, tensions, competing interests and resentments. They do have cause to wonder if a country like China can stay together when the only thing holding the country together is will of the people. And there are Chinese who value the presumption that force is required to keep the country together, to keep it functioning and to keep it rising (which is almost a national obsession). There is a very deep and powerful nationalist undercurrent in even Chinese people who claim not to be political (that I know).

This is the argument that Beijing consistently puts forward to justify its inaction on political reform, but it's not convincing. Every democratic state has divisions, tensions, and challenges, yet anarchy hasn't spread across North America and Europe. In those regions of the world, citizens who wish to protect their interests or enact change form so-called interest groups to raise funds, promote their cause to the public, and lobby their government. Why couldn't Chinese do that? Why is it that they're expected to riot when problems arise? What really worries Beijing, above anything else, is loss of authority. If in 1910, when provincial assemblies were elected, its representatives then sent to Beijing to form a national assembly and work on a national constitution, why can't it be done now? After all, China is a much more stable place than it was in 1910.

Sean in Ottawa

I don't disagree with you Liang. That is why I say the fear borders on paranoia-- it is not rational.

And I agree governemnt propaganda is driving it.

But this does not mean it is not real.

I think it is convincing to enough people-- at least the ones that matter and this is in part because of the history of China as understood by many Chinese. (Perhaps paraphrased as before me the deluge.) Defenders of avoiding any risky politics point to the power of warlords and minimize any Chinese cooperation. The long hard years of Chinese disunity in the face of a war with Japan remain a part of the conciousness of those people I know, and this is fed by a popular culture almost obsessed with that period rather than the one before when Sun Yat Sen offered so much hope. (If only he had not been died then.)

Also, there is a huge disinterest in politics among many Chinese (also here but it is different)-- paraphrased as -- "don't talk to me of politics-- I just want to get ahead for my family."

I have heard it argued that Chinese people need to see economic progress stagnate before they will want to dabble in politics.

Liang, I don't think we are that far apart-- just speaking of multiple sides of the same object.

Liang Jiajie

Ok, I understand.

The importance of hisotrical perception among Chinese is a good point.  I suppose that, in considering the question 'Whither China?', popular perceptions of the past are important since they help formulate the decisions about the future.  Do your Chinese friends talk about history?

I suspect many are prepared to establish a new political system -- but they've been silenced.

Considering China's geography and regional identities, I've felt for a long time that federalism is the best option if China is to remain viable.  What do you think?

Sean in Ottawa

Good question-- on the issue of history. Some do and some do not. The ones more associated with the communist party tend to speak about very modern history (and claim the country was born in 1949 as opposed to the regime). They speak about the period of war with the Japanese (yes I know there is a contradiction there) and they speak at times of ancient history. None of them speak much about early 20th century history other than the war years. Others less associated with the communists do the same although less deliberately-- I think because they are not aware of any more not because they refuse.

Very few speak and connect historical issues that actually run through the latter Qing period into the republic and on in to the PRC. These influences I see as someone interested in history but I find few Chinese are even interested in the possibility never mind actually aware.

The issue of Tibet is also a mess polarized in to something no honest historian could recognize. (Tibet had a relationship with China that was not independent but also not centrally controlled and the Communist interpretation of that relationship is a reinterpretation but so to is the notion of complete separateness. Many Chinese simply cannot go there because if they did they would recognize that Tibet is not alone-- there are other parts of China whose relationship to the centre have been redefined in a new way and then imposed. Some of those parts don't seem to mind much and have benefited but that is not true of everywhere.

I do agree that many have been silenced-- some directly and some indirectly and others defacto silenced simply by being educated in a system that is willfully ignorant about very important formative parts of its past. Indeed some of the most interesting Chinese observers are those who left China long ago and have a Chinese perspective but have also had the benefits of a more open education of Chinese history. Problem is that few actually are interested and aware as much of this history is suppressed in China and many outside are simply not interested other than the same Sino-Japanese war/ancient archeology themes.

I totally agree with where you are going and I think it is the best hope for China-- also works for Tibet and Taiwan when these parts are seen from their perspective. This is a truer vision of China-- not as centrally controlled (the country is too diverse and to big to be centrally controlled). The Canadian model with a division of power including strong control of culture and education at the provincial level such as we have here can work. I have long felt in the case of both Tibet and Taiwan this is the answer. But when you look at the other reasons the same case is compelling. The Chinese state is I think unwieldy.In this case I find myself in agreement with those that believe the Chinese state cannot survive democracy. Except I am not opposed to democracy. The solution is therefore that within a move to a more accountable democratic system (one that does not have to look like what we have here other than to have some of the more universal elements), China needs a move to decentralization if it is not to break up entirely. I will admit that such a move is risky as it might end up solidifying as what we have in Canada with Quebec, a nation within Canada, and other provinces for example or it might keep going as in the Soviet republics. I do believe that there is a national Chinese identity co-existing within China's nations and there is more hope than what the USSR had because of a longer shared history of a decentralized entity in the past. It would take a lot of leadership to pull this off however.

There is also the question of whether smaller states as in the United States that are less able to pull out in a single chunk would be less risky or full viable provinces as we have in Canada. I prefer the latter but am aware of the risks. I think we are in agreement that to try to avoid that by maintaining central control on everything is more risky as any democratic power will demand more autonomy (by that I mean the real thing not the version currently used) for those regions.

Maybe I am being inconsistent in arguing that China on the one hand needs to be very careful about imposing transplanted western democratic models and must consider how to develop its own, while also saying Canada offers something China could learn from in terms of political division. Of course if we remade Canada today we could use our experience to do a better job and China has the benefit of observing that too.

I also think that it is possible China could have gone towards a confederate model back in the 1920s but just missed that unfortunately. A lot of pain could have been avoided had it done so. I would rather see China do that than break apart.

 

Sean in Ottawa

I think that even the ancient historical China also has some lessons-- like the great compromise of the kingdoms where the smaller kingdom became the nominal leader and capital to avoid further bloodshed between the larger warring kingdoms. I think there are lessons there that speak directly to the value of a federal state rather than a centralized one and this is a part of chinese culture even if repressed.

Fidel

I think that a phony majority of Canadians fear what democracy could bring to Canada and all. The USA was never a united country either. Rightwing libertarians have worked to Balkanize parts of the world they want hacking off for themselves, and they think they thought they could do it with China since Chiang Kai-shek. I agree with Jackie Chan. China is not ready for western style democracy. I wouldn't wish this farce sometimes referred to as democracy on any country.

Sean in Ottawa

Fidel wrote:

I think that a phony majority of Canadians fear what democracy could bring to Canada and all. The USA was never a united country either. Rightwing libertarians have worked to Balkanize parts of the world they want hacking off for themselves, and they think they thought they could do it with China since Chiang Kai-shek. I agree with Jackie Chan. China is not ready for western style democracy. I wouldn't wish this farce sometimes referred to as democracy on any country.

I am uncomfortable with the seeming tit-for-tat statements to the effect that there is nothing wrong in China that is not also wrong here to the same degree. I find that minimizes China's challenges and ironically it forces a western lens on China that is unneeded (that we have to keep reminding people that we are just as bad in every respect or somehow contextualize this in a north american experience). It might be politically correct but it is counter-productive, minimizes the Chinese situation and experience and serves to place every conversation about China in to another context into which it does not actually fit.

I don't feel the need to feel balanced by listing all the problems about western democracy in the same breath as when I am talking about China.

I think Fidel you are drawn in one direction but are inadvertently producing the opposite of what you are intending.

To be more blunt-- it isn't all about the US and it isn't all about Canada. The fact we face issues here does not have to be injected in to every conversation about China in a misguided attempt to prove respect for China and remind people of our status as dissenters here. I do respect China and I do have trouble with a lot here but I do not presume that our issues here are relevant to the discussion about China and I would not compare certain issues they have to what goes on here.

Sean in Ottawa

George, I find that analogy interesting-- especially as technology and global political experience has passed much of this by. The era of centralized governance -- at least effective centralized governance seems to have passed. Many of the most important issues today cannot be managed at the nation-state level with some requiring more local management and other more regional and still other more global management. A case in point is the issue of the viability of an independent Scotland. Presently there is little the UK can provide Scotland that cannot be gained from the EU. Problems within the EU have to be addressed at the EU level not the national level and global environmental factors (and labour and social factors although these remain for the most part neglected even in conversation) need to be addressed globally.

Thanks George, I like your post and I think your post lead to mine and I hope you agree with that direction.

Of course things are not symmetrical and China does not need to replicate the EU. But the idea that you can manage things in that middle power range that used to be a given (the state) has passed. Increasingly, things need to be considered community by community making cities more important while other issues move right by the state to a more international forum. In this context a vision for a state that has common jurisdictions in some areas but is decentralized in others makes global sense. Of course different parts of the world are coming to the same reality from different directions-- in Europe it was a coming together to create an entity that really is becoming a federal state whereas in China we are talking about the opposite direction when an overly centralized state (with a history of not being so centralized) could consider devolving to a federal state that may be somewhat similar. Of course the history will define the optics, the cultural perception of it and specific jurisdictions but perhaps not so much its main function and balance.

ETA: cross posted with George's last comment. I actually am not sure what you are referring to in your last post so this cannot be an answer to it as it is really a response to your previous...

George Victor

Ryan?  Has your "inevitability" thesis stood the test of onsite reportage?

L J's position, two summers back, was a variation on that (correct me if I'm wrong, L J ) when the potential threat from mass unrest seemed to outweigh attempts at removing the dangers of corrupted centralized government.

I am - to use a east-coast Canadian term - gobsmacked by the increasing openess now openly called for by the need to find representative government...which was our own experience in early 19th century Upper Canada. In a way, the Family Compact and the Clergy Reserves of land, with the attendant corruption and barriers to transportation, were an early (if much simpler...there were farmers and a few townsfolk) parallel.   But of course, the advance of railways really completed the de-centralization campaign.  Too bad we cannot count on technological advance to provide such aids to political questions today...or can we? (If enough people can bite the bullet of nuclear power...)

You are a student of Canadian history, L J.  Where is China's  Alberta?  That province is our Mordor (if you are familiar with the Lord of the Rings).  It could become the 51st American state in a heartbeat, according to the most conservative of Albertans, many of them descendants of U.S.settlers a century ago.  I doubt that China is that vulnerable to fragmentation ?

Sean in Ottawa

I have not yet said how much I hate the thread title-- China is rising, is facing many difficulties but I can't see where we get a title like "Whither China" from.

George Victor

To use an old, dated simile: I'm afraid that Fidel's record needle is stuck, Sean.  In sports imagery...the end run is best.

George Victor

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I have not yet said how much I hate the thread title-- China is rising, is facing many difficulties but I can't see where we get a title like "Whither China" from.

It seems to be at least as ancient as the St. James Bible, and it is more eloquent than "where is China headed?"

Liang Jiajie

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I totally agree with where you are going and I think it is the best hope for China-- also works for Tibet and Taiwan when these parts are seen from their perspective. This is a truer vision of China-- not as centrally controlled (the country is too diverse and to big to be centrally controlled). The Canadian model with a division of power including strong control of culture and education at the provincial level such as we have here can work. I have long felt in the case of both Tibet and Taiwan this is the answer. But when you look at the other reasons the same case is compelling. The Chinese state is I think unwieldy.In this case I find myself in agreement with those that believe the Chinese state cannot survive democracy. Except I am not opposed to democracy. The solution is therefore that within a move to a more accountable democratic system (one that does not have to look like what we have here other than to have some of the more universal elements), China needs a move to decentralization if it is not to break up entirely. I will admit that such a move is risky as it might end up solidifying as what we have in Canada with Quebec, a nation within Canada, and other provinces for example or it might keep going as in the Soviet republics. I do believe that there is a national Chinese identity co-existing within China's nations and there is more hope than what the USSR had because of a longer shared history of a decentralized entity in the past. It would take a lot of leadership to pull this off however.

There is also the question of whether smaller states as in the United States that are less able to pull out in a single chunk would be less risky or full viable provinces as we have in Canada. I prefer the latter but am aware of the risks. I think we are in agreement that to try to avoid that by maintaining central control on everything is more risky as any democratic power will demand more autonomy (by that I mean the real thing not the version currently used) for those regions.

I've felt for a long time that if China were to break up, under whatever political system, then it wasn't meant to be.  After all, almost half of China's modern political boundaries were established by military conquest, meaning groups of people resisted Han encroachment.  Considering the recent violent events across western China, the conquest isn't finished.  Even at the beginning, it seems that China wasn't meant to be.  I'm confident that if the wealthier coastal provinces had the opportunity to move away further from the centre, they would.  I'm thinking of Guangdong, Fujian, Shandong, and Zhejiang.  Given their huge populations and FDI, and their tradition of overseas trade, the financial rewards of independent policy-making and tax collection are immense.  Resistance of central control from these provinces has been significant for a long time too.

If Beijing wishes to keep the rest of China in line, it will have to increase investment in the neglected provinces of the centre, north, and west.  Most of Beijing's attention has been given to a few coastal provinces, which has been the case since before 1978.  But I don't think economic progress will be enough to placate regions like Tibet and Xinjiang.  Those regions have benefitted economically from Beijing's investments but, obviously, there's still significant hostility from there.  The answer is a larger role for those regions AND their indigenous peoples in their own affairs.

GV -- I remember that discussion.  Sometimes I work things out by discussing them with others before making up my mind.  The result is me playing the devil's advocate -- the devil being Beijing.

Sean in Ottawa

I find that China is changing so much that I do not worry about my evolution on thinking about it. My thinking is changing constantly although some themes remain.

I also find it important to note that the Qing dynasty was not Han but at moments was still popular with Han people. The Qianlong story was so popular that it persists today among southern Chinese (the story of the Emperor traveling to see his people in disguise and those who knew him kneeling with their fingers only so as not to give him away. When you offer tea to many Southern Chinese they still do the gesture and most know the story behind it. Others remember the same emperor with affection as the non-Han Chinese who loved China. He became an accomplished artist himself painting traditional Chinese themes. Yes, he had a dark side that is well known (and known to Europeans as the man emperor who humiliated the Europeans by even making them eat half eaten food from his table and garbage, eventually managing to unite them against him and China-- something difficult to do with Europeans who loved to fight each other). The acceptance of the Qing for many years (later it declined badly in popularity, ironically reaching a low under the Empress Dowager Cixi (formerly a concubine), who ironically some say was the first Han leader since Ming times although that is disputed).She is also remembered as having squandered the money China was to build a navy on her summer palace and of being a despot although some of this is also in dispute depending on who you read.

I do think that China can survive and it was meant to be-- I also think that it can be screwed up and blown apart if the leadership made enough mistakes. I am hopeful though.

 

 

Fidel

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
I think Fidel you are drawn in one direction but are inadvertently producing the opposite of what you are intending.

To be more blunt-- it isn't all about the US and it isn't all about Canada.

China and the US share recent history of the last century. The two countries are tied together as part of the historical record. And now Chimerica will be getting a divorce. What else can be said really. There will be currency and trade standoffs between East and West as our corrupt politicos and billionaire oligarchy will likely continue deflecting blame for permanently bad economies here on China and cheap labour in Asia.  China will have the upper hand in years to come.

Where the military is, prices are high. - old Chinese proverb

Sean in Ottawa

Wow--- I can't even begin to relate to your perspective here. I don't believe that the two countries are tied tighter together any more than any other two countries. Indeed yes they have been allies and ennemies and barely talked to each other and in an expoitive relationship. Like most of the world. I don't see that as a reason to insert the US in to any interpretation of where China is going at this point. The US is a superpower so there will be a relationship but I don't think it is defining of China to the degree you make out. In fact I found the post rather offensive.

Chmerica-- ok- cute but really?

I simply refuse to see China inside the lens you do as being only in terms of the big bad USA

As for the Chinese proverb quote I can't see how this is related to anythign we are talking about-- but I was curious and thought the big wide web could help so I did searches and found about a dozon references: all you and all here on rabble. Please provide a source for this proverb. I have never heard of it before and would like to know the source.

 

Fidel

Well excuse me for replying to your first reply to me. Carry on with your intense discussion of Chinese affairs. And I apologize for the unAmerican comments in this thread about China. And there is a lot of China bashing going on in the USSA today  just so you're aware of that coincidence with this intense thread topic of discussion concerning China.

God bless America. Scuse. Peace out.

Liang Jiajie

George Victor wrote:

You are a student of Canadian history, L J.  Where is China's  Alberta?  That province is our Mordor (if you are familiar with the Lord of the Rings).  It could become the 51st American state in a heartbeat, according to the most conservative of Albertans, many of them descendants of U.S.settlers a century ago.  I doubt that China is that vulnerable to fragmentation ?

Well, the central government certainly thinks China is vulnerable to fragmentation.  But as Sean mentionned earlier, most Chinese are proud of China, and Beijing has the military and intelligence resources to steamroll a separatist movement.  The most effective policy to protect China from fragmentation will ultimately be the on-going settlement of Han Chinese in minority regions.   

Sean in Ottawa

Fidel -- your suggestion that my desire to keep the US out of a discussion about China is related to a defence of the United States, or that it is somehow related to China bashing is warped and out of place if not outright dishonest.

If you took off your deep single-issue glasses it ought to be apparent that I am neither a friend to US policy nor an enemy to China. That you suggest that I am criticizing you as unamercican is also dishonest. I don't care in this context about your opinion of the US. Surely there are other threads that you can hijack in to your own pet project? I could even agree with you there, but to have to make this thread which is about China connected to your pet obsession about the US is to submit this conversation to an ethnocentric thread drift coming from you that we should not need to indulge in with every thread.

To be blunt, I find China more interesting than the US and I am personally more interested in its future. That is why I am writing here. I quesiton why you are writing here and why you need to make a thread called "Wither China" about whatever concerns you may have about the United States. The US monopolizes enough -- why this?

Sean in Ottawa

Liang Jiajie wrote:

George Victor wrote:

You are a student of Canadian history, L J.  Where is China's  Alberta?  That province is our Mordor (if you are familiar with the Lord of the Rings).  It could become the 51st American state in a heartbeat, according to the most conservative of Albertans, many of them descendants of U.S.settlers a century ago.  I doubt that China is that vulnerable to fragmentation ?

Well, the central government certainly thinks China is vulnerable to fragmentation.  But as Sean mentionned earlier, most Chinese are proud of China, and Beijing has the military and intelligence resources to steamroll a separatist movement.  The most effective policy to protect China from fragmentation will ultimately be the on-going settlement of Han Chinese in minority regions.   

I would argue that the most effective way would be to provide minority groups a reason to want to remain in China and of course I think China has some distance to go in that regard. Ultimately the most effective way to keep people in a particular country is to make them want to be there.

Certainly, I think China, if it wants to, can build that attraction.

Liang Jiajie

Sean -- Beijing has been trying do that with its modernization campaign in Tibet and Xinjiang.  But from Beijing's policy book (not mine), considering the recent uprisings in Lhasa and Urumqi, Han settlement will likely be the more effective option.  From our perspective, though, the better way to give minorities a reason to want to stay is for Beijing to take real action against discrimination. 

Sean in Ottawa

I think the government has indeed been claiming to be developing the region but many say the minorities are shut out of the benefits. Indeed as you say without ending the discrimination (something that can only happen with openness since the discrimination appears to be at every level little can be done here. The need for political and public accountability is underlined here.)

At the same time there is massive what appears to be tokenism in the media etc. but that does not answer it either. (The many CCTV cultural shows make it look like everybody is respected and wanted and happy to be sure.)

Without a free media and an accessible justice system this development will not serve to deliver sufficient appreciation to the central government. One person I spoke to who was there said that some people are satisfied and happy when they share some of the benefits while others are not. Assuming this is true then there is the need to recognize that this may not be incremental and full human rights to expression and legal rights to assert individual rights will be required to complete this. I find that the challenge for China may be that many of the elements that can make transition successful need to come at the same time making the incremental approach problematic.

It will still take likely some significant leadership from the government to fix this.

 

Fidel

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Fidel -- your suggestion that my desire to keep the US out of a discussion about China is related to a defence of the United States, or that it is somehow related to China bashing is warped and out of place if not outright dishonest.

If you took off your deep single-issue glasses it ought to be apparent that I am neither a friend to US policy nor an enemy to China. etcetera

It's you who are actually attempting to transform this thread into a me versus you theme. If you read Ryan's very first post in the other thread, he mentions Canada and the US in post #1. So I am not off topic. Your personal bullshit about me is though. From now on you can stop replying to me with personal attack posts as I won't be reading them. Your posts are now invisible to me.

George Victor

Ryan has been invited to reply to L J, but must be busy with his young charges in a classroom, Fidel.  And please do try not to fashion this thread around your obsession with U.S.capitalists.  Try to imagine Chinese capitalists.  :)

A couple of years ago, the bloodletting in western China and Tibet made it difficult to correspond with anyone there.  Being able, now, to really look inside China in this way is enlightening. Particularly at a time when we, in the West, are scurrying to find remedies to our own economic woes...which may very well develop into serious social and political protests as people waken to the ever-increasing inequality of income and life chances...everywhere. Right now, fear seems to have the middle class by the ass.

 

@Sean  (quote):

"I would argue that the most effective way would be to provide minority groups a reason to want to remain in China and of course I think China has some distance to go in that regard. Ultimately the most effective way to keep people in a particular country is to make them want to be there."

 

Sean, whatever gives you the idea that "minority groups" have a choice about remaining in China?

Fidel

This thread is absolutely bizarro. George, did you even read the first few posts of the first of these threads? Pay attention. Wakey wakey.

Sean in Ottawa

First for those other than the person committed to not reading. This thread was started by George in response to a single post and the conversation went from there. It also started with a quesiton about how we should deal with China to a general discussion about China. Only one person kept trying to yank the conversation to being about the problems of the USian empire.

Fidel, I did not try to make this about you and me. I repsonded to the substance of your post with a concern that was respectful.

I remained respectful and polite until this post:

"Well excuse me for replying to your first reply to me. Carry on with your intense discussion of Chinese affairs. And I apologize for the unAmerican comments in this thread about China. And there is a lot of China bashing going on in the USSA today just so you're aware of that coincidence with this intense thread topic of discussion concerning China.

God bless America. Scuse. Peace out."

It was Fidel who decided to make this an attack, to make it sarcastic. It was Fidel who is off in a huff because he can't take what he dishes out. Read the posts before that one-- they are engaged and on topic and respectful. Accuse me of being a McCartheist and I stop being nice. Perhaps that is a reasonable lesson. I wonder how many others remain nice in that context.

 

George Victor

Fidel wrote:

This thread is absolutely bizarro. George, did you even read the first few posts of the first of these threads? Pay attention. Wakey wakey.

Your posts toward the end of the first part of this thread were tending to this, Fidel: "The fourth thing is that China and the rest of the BRIC countries now see the US and Britain as criminal regimes with a likely false flag op on 9/11 ultimately and intimately tied to to fascist attacks on Yugoslavia by 1999, and fascist military attacks and military occupations Afghanistan and Iraq and marauding over the borders into other countries. China and other countries are realizing that they have been financing US military buildups all around their countries. They see the west as lawless and corrupt and are now re-thinking the central plan in general." Now THAT is bizarre.

 

I had learned a helluva lot from L J's postings up until that time...including the new openess of political thought within China itself. I hope to continue to learn, about the barriers to change, and the dangers, to us all.

Fidel

But it's the truth, George. They do see the west as corrupt and lawless. Perhaps you can convince the CPC in Beijing that they are overreacting to US military buildup all around China and colder war rhetoric emanating from Washington and Ottawa? Are our CSIS spooks really helping matters when they parrot whatever in hell their US counterparts instruct them to? Canada's Chinese community leaders happen to be incensed over those recent dumb-dumb public statements. Gawd theyre such puppets. It's a national embarrassment.

George Victor

You show little interest in what is happening in China or in its actions elsewhere, Fidel.  Nobody here is defending U.S. actions around the world, but someday you may notice that Washington is not alone in its depradations. But then again, you may not.  :)

Wilf Day

Liang Jiajie wrote:
the central government certainly thinks China is vulnerable to fragmentation.  But as Sean mentionned earlier, most Chinese are proud of China, and Beijing has the military and intelligence resources to steamroll a separatist movement.  The most effective policy to protect China from fragmentation will ultimately be the on-going settlement of Han Chinese in minority regions.

When I think of fragmentation of China, I don't think of Xinjiang, which has too much conflict for Beijing to loosen control. I think of, as you said, "Guangdong, Fujian, Shandong, and Zhejiang.  Given their huge populations and FDI, and their tradition of overseas trade, the financial rewards of independent policy-making and tax collection are immense.  Resistance of central control from these provinces has been significant for a long time too."

Is language a factor? I find some Mandarin-speakers and Wu-speakers make fun of Yue (Cantonese) speakers for their language as well as for their less healthy communities. (Do you know that travel doctors in Canada recommend certain immunizations for travel to China, and additional shots for travel to the South?) Guangdong does not need Beijing, nor does Shanghai. Don't they pretty much go their own way already? If they became autonomous regions, how could you tell? 

George Victor

I hope that Ryan and Sean are still on board.  The last post by Wilf is interesting indeed, and I wonder if L J can respond to it, particularly the question about the apparent independence of Guangdong and Shanghai.

It also raises the problem, however, of the ever-greater incursion of China into other countries - particulaly those in East Africa, and now Canada - in the pursuit of resources of all kinds needed to sustain 1.3 billion people who have achieved a per-person GDP of $4,000 and aiming to match the U.S.'s  $48,000.

Sean in Ottawa

I am not so sure about that Wilf.

These are not the easiest to sort out-- where does the labour and the capital come from?

I understood that some regions are jealous that the state invests so much in to Shanghai feeling that it is actually getting extra resources that come from other places. We know that migrant labour is a big influence-- if they could not go to work there would the booms exist?

I don't know how these places would do on their own and don't know if any studies exist to tell us-- possibly not.

Shanghai etc. is very rich and would eventually do well I do not dispute but is it doing better or worse attached to the rest of China-- I think likely better. In that sense the relationship between the wealthy parts of China and the less wealthy parts may in fact be exploitive to some degree...

George Victor

It's for sure a fluid situation, today, Sean, as people struggle to gain a financial footing...there were more than 350,000 millionaires in China in 2009, after the crash. But I wonder, again, at your perspective on the "freedom" facing those wishing to escape all that. quote:"I would argue that the most effective way would be to provide minority groups a reason to want to remain in China and of course I think China has some distance to go in that regard. Ultimately the most effective way to keep people in a particular country is to make them want to be there."

 

Sean, whatever gives you the idea that there is some sort of "choice" available?

Sean in Ottawa

What made you think I thought there was a choice at present?

I am saying over the long term if China was to allow democracy it would also need to allow self determination and to do that it need the peopel to want to stay. That is entirely different from a declaration that there is presently a choice.

Somehow the country will need to keep providing hope for further economic improvement but this is difficult with policies promoting the concentration of income in the hands of a small class of people.

George Victor

From #22 (and repeated in #26):

@Sean  (quote):

"I would argue that the most effective way would be to provide minority groups a reason to want to remain in China and of course I think China has some distance to go in that regard. Ultimately the most effective way to keep people in a particular country is to make them want to be there."

 

That, of course, won't happen. The Han minority in the west and Tibet will soon be a majority there.

Beijing is home to one bloody-minded, nationalistic, vengeful  and dictatorial government. Did I miss "corrupt?"

Liang Jiajie

Wilf Day wrote:

When I think of fragmentation of China, I don't think of Xinjiang, which has too much conflict for Beijing to loosen control. I think of, as you said, "Guangdong, Fujian, Shandong, and Zhejiang.  Given their huge populations and FDI, and their tradition of overseas trade, the financial rewards of independent policy-making and tax collection are immense.  Resistance of central control from these provinces has been significant for a long time too."

Is language a factor? I find some Mandarin-speakers and Wu-speakers make fun of Yue (Cantonese) speakers for their language as well as for their less healthy communities. (Do you know that travel doctors in Canada recommend certain immunizations for travel to China, and additional shots for travel to the South?) Guangdong does not need Beijing, nor does Shanghai. Don't they pretty much go their own way already? If they became autonomous regions, how could you tell? 

The people of Guangdong proudly speak Cantonese.  There were demonstrations in Guangzhou a few weeks ago to protest CCTV's decision to broadcast the Asian games in Mandarin even though the events are being held in Guangzhou.  So, yeah, I'd say language is a factor.  In defence of Guangdong from those comedians, its image throughout the rest of China is a outdated since it has become one of the richest and most productive provinces in the country.  Let's also remember the historic significance of Guangzhou in modern Chinese history, having produced some of China's most influential reformers and revolutionaries, and for being the staging point for two revolutions. 

Those provinces are still very much a part of the PRC.  Their reluctance to comply with central planning is really similar to a Canadian province voicing its concerns or outright disagreement with Ottawa.  If there was a real threat of separation, you'd likely hear of the arrest and execution of the provincial party leaders and there'd be a reshuffling, to use a Canadian term, of the provincial party.  There'd be a military presence in Guangzhou.  The province's finances and geography are too critical to the survival of the PRC, as well as to the legitimacy of the CCP, for Beijing to let it manoeuvre too loosely. 

George Victor

Doug SAunder's Arrival City is proving to be an incredibly detailed explanation of what is happening as people move from village to city in China and a dozen other countries where the "arrival cities" are known as "slums, favelas, bustees, bidonvilles, ashwaiyyat, thantytowns, kampongs, urban villages, gecekondular and barrios of the developing world...also as the immigrant neighbourhoods, ethnic districts, banlieues difficiles, Plattenbau developments, Chinatowns, Little Indias, Hispanic quarters, urban slums and migrant suburbs of wealthy countries..."

In the opening chapter we learn about people like Xian Guand Quan in Liu Gong Li (near Chongqing): "He came from the village of Shi Long, more than 100 kilometres away, in 1992, shortly after China's economy liberalized and the government began tolerating some peasant mobility. It was a move of desperation, from a farm where sixz of them slept in a tiny dirt-floor straw hut." His wife cooked for constructiion crews and he worked at first for 50 to 75 cents a day, plus meals of rice,which contained pork every five days, and the right to sleep on the site. They spent their nights wrapped in sheets on the foundations of buildings, joining hundreds of thousands of other homeless workers in the city.

"They sent all of their income back to Shi Long, and went years without seeing their daughter. They joined China's 'floating population' of between 150 million and 200 million people...

It is going to be a marvelous read, about heroic efforts by the people taking part in this massive movement involving, eventually, billiions of people.....all other things being equal.   I do mean to ask Doug about his opening lines: "What will be remembered about the twenty-first century, more than anything else except perhaps the effects of a changing climate, is the great, and final, shift of human populations out of rural, agricultural life and into cities."  Perhaps the book will explain the degree of his optimism in this.

NDPP

A Surprise Boost for Euro from China

http://www.voltairenet.org/article167171.html

"The embattled Euro has gotten a surprise boost from an unexpected quarter - China. The country with the world's largest foreign exchange currency reserves, China has pledged to support Greek debt as well as the Euro in what is clearly a geopolitical decision...

In doing so, China has signaled it seeks to prevent the US financial warfare attack on Europe and to play the EU off against USA in a geopolitical chess game of fascinating dimensions.."

George Victor

Ah, nice to be able to use this thread again...

quote:

"In doing so, China has signaled it seeks to prevent the US financial warfare attack on Europe and to play the EU off against USA in a geopolitical chess game of fascinating dimensions.."

 

 

China, with a yuan estimated to be some 40 per cent below its real exchange rate value, is trying to save its ass ...while playing the power game.  The U.S. "financial warfare attack" seems directed at China, not Europe...yet.

NDPP

Pipelineistan's New Silk Road - by Pepe Escobar

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175306/tomgram%3A_pepe_escobar%2C_pipeli...'s_new_silk_road_/

 

"No wonder the Obama administration's Eurasian energy czar Richard Morningstar was forced to admit at a congressional hearing that the US simply cannot compete with China when it comes to Central Asia's energy wealth. If only he had delivered the same message to the Pentagon.."

 

George Victor

Isn't it amazing.  Hundreds of thousands of lives taken away by the U.S.oil lobby and the automobiles of China are going to be consuming the oil-men's (and Condy's) objective.

Must be a starless night in Texas.

Wilf Day

Speculation has mounted that political reform in China could be a hot topic after Wen -- widely viewed as more liberal-minded than Hu, who is party chairman -- issued an unusually strong call for openness.  

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee is elected by the plenary session of the CPC Central Committee.

Quote:
The election of delegates to committees and Party congresses at all levels is by secret ballot. The number of candidates is usually 10 percent more of the number of delegates to be elected.

Or more. For example, the election of the 204 members of the Central Committee also results in the election of 167 alternate members. The votes cast for each alternate member are public.  The votes cast for each Central Committee member seem to have become public recently. I don't know if the votes cast for Political Bureau members are public or not. I don't know how many usually stand. Anyone know?

I assume all the recent jockeying is in fact campaigning for the 24 seats on the Political Bureau. The incumbents are:

For example, in 2007 it was reported:

Quote:
power competition among different political forces within the CCP tends to be intensive. At this party congress, it was reflected in the competition between the Tuanpai and Taizidang. It is worth noting that both the Tuanpai and Taizidang are wider than the conventional concept of "factions" like the Shanghai faction. They are major political forces in today's China. Competition between different political forces has gained de facto legitimacy, but has not been formalized. Within China, scholars have begun to discuss why different "factions" within the party should be formalized through democratic mechanisms.
  

Wilf Day

Considering all the experts on China posting about Liu XiaoBo, I'm disappointed none of them have any answers to my questions in the previous post. 

George Victor

I have depended on word from Llian Jiajie and yourself, Wilf.   Perhaps you could simply state whether you consider the supporters of Liu hereabouts are too impatient - given such "openness" evolving withint CPP structure - and so old Liu will, unfortunately, just have to cool his heels...or whether his "openness" is only a small piece of evidence that his call for , say, an end to one-party government is timely (if ill-chosen in terms of his own health and welfare).

You might even condescend to comment on the question put forward regarding the time we have left, Wilf, in which to fashion an international stage on which the newst superpower on the block could be asked to explain what it thinks about the sovereignty of countries on which it depends for the raw material of empire. 

This from a reader of the first edition of The Scalpel, the Sword who applauded Trudeau for his clear thinking in visiting China in 1970.

NDPP

The Geopolitical Agenda Behind the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize - by F William Engdahl

http://www.voltairenet.org/article167396.html

"With almost flawless political timing, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee of the Norweigan Parliament announced the giving of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese critic, political activist Liu Xiabo.

"The Nobel Prize's world media theater is part of an escalating long-term pressure strategy of Washington against Chinese trying to make China 'lose face' in the eyes of the rest of the world. That is all part of an orchestrated, deeper game, using 'human rights' and a web of NGOs and organizations that Washington considers directly or indirectly as a weapon of Washington geopolitics.."

George Victor

Of course, there is also Paul Krugman's position (he was the only voice in constant protest of the idiocy of the Bush regime) in the NYTimes of Oct. 17:

"Major economic powers, realizing that they have an important stake in the international system, are normally very hesitant about resorting to economic warfare, even in the face of severe provocation - witness the way U.S. policy makers have agonized and temporized over what to do about China's grossly protectionist exchange-rate policy. China, however, showed no hesitation at all about using its trade muscle to get its way in a political dispute, in clear - if denied - violation of international trade law.

"Couple the rare earth story with China's behavior on other fronts - the state subsidies that help firms gain key contracts, the pressure on foreign companies to move production to China and, above all, that exchange-rate policy - and what you have is a portrait of a rogue economic superpower, unwilling to play by the rules. And the question is what the rest of us are going to do about it."

 

Clearly, the U.S. has not been above board in its international economic dealings - as any Canadian can attest - but Krugman is saying that the new imperial power on the block is no better, and invites retaliation.

 

NDPP

China, 'Rare Earth' Metals And The Need For Industrial Restructuring In The West  - by Dr Peter Custers

http://www.countercurrents.org/custers021110.htm

"Has China started challenging a form of dominance which the West for many centuries has sought to preserve, ie exclusive or privileged access to strategic raw materials? The present structure of the world's trade in rare earth metals appears to be both the outcome of a conscious Chinese strategy, and of a lack of foresight among China's main competitors.."

George Victor

It certainly demonstrates that central planning fused with the rapacious spirit of capitalism wins the day!Smile

 

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