Freedom of Speech? Ha!

May 30, 2009


[First published July 6, 2005] Recently a professor returned from China and exclaimed about his freedom there. He lectured in several universities and said about it, “I could say anything I wanted.” This is typical of many Liberals and leftists who visit China and see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, During the Cultural Revolution when there was blood shed across the land and maybe as many as 10,000,000 died, a member of the Sierra Club came through Hawaii and gave a speech. In it, he lauded what progress China had made and that there was much America could learn from them, especially on controlling population growth. Yes, kill a thousand here and another thousand there and it adds up.

China lovers have dominated discourse on China and since they have played a central role in communications and teaching, the public’s knowledge of the horrors of life under Mao and the massive megamurders of his communist regime, second only to Stalin’s [recent updating of the data has put Mao first], had never really reached public consciousness. Indeed, the general impression has been the communists made life better. No way. People in the later 1950s and 60s were worse off economically then they had been in the 1930s under the corrupt Nationalist regime, even though fascist it still allowed much more liberty than did the communists.

Anyway, here we have another Professor returning to extol his freedom of speech in China, and what do we soon thereafter find out. Bloggers and searchers on China’s internet are limited in what words they can use or search for. Words such as “freedom,” “democracy,” “human rights,” and “Taiwan independence” are forbidden. If one attempts to use them, or any other political speech, they get a popup which says “This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.”

Z.CHINA.CARTOON
Users will be fortunate if that is all that happens. Bloggers have been arrested, and now all Chinese websites and bloggers have had to register with the government (keep in mind that the government is the Communist Party) by the end of June, or be shut down.

The communists have created two planes of existence in China, the one hovering over the other. The bottom plane is the economic one, involving a more open and freer market system. Above it is the forbidden plane of political policy and activity run by the communist and military elite. It will be interesting to observe this duality, for by theory much accepted in political science, the lower plane with its growing middle class will gradually dissolve the upper one, like warm water undermining a glacier, or their will be a revolutionary outbreak that will shatter the upper plane.

What am I predicting? A “right wing” palace coup as took place in 1976 against the Gang of Four (including Mao’s widow Jiang Qing and her close associates) that eventually through Deng Xiaoping created the lower plane of economic activity we see now.

Remember. You read it here.


Link of Note

“MSN China Agrees to Ban ‘Freedom’ “ (6/14/05) By Tim Gray

Gray said:

Chinese bloggers are likely choosing their words a little more carefully this week after another American Internet behemoth gave in to Beijing’s restrictions regarding certain politically sensitive words.
Microsoft . . . agreed abide by censors banning the words “freedom” and “democracy” on its Chinese internet portal, MSN China, as well as other potentially politically charged subjects such as “Taiwan independence”, “human rights” and the “Dalai Lama.”

Microsoft is a business out to make money. And China with its huge mass of people, China has always been able to make Western businessmen forget their shame.
Democratic Peace Clock
Proof that More democratic
freedom = less war/violence


Not a Parody — China’s White Paper on Democracy

April 2, 2009


click me^–>

[First published October 20, 2005] China has published a white paper, “Building of Political Democracy in China.” (full paper here). This is a remarkable paper and provides an invaluable view of the Chinese communist elite’s perception of democracy, or what they believe would justify their dictatorship to the democracies. In short, what we see as red, they claim is truly blue. A few choice paragraphs:

In the course of their modern history, the Chinese people have waged unrelenting struggles and made arduous explorations in order to win their democratic rights. But only under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) did they really win the right to be masters of the state. The Chinese people dearly cherish and resolutely protect their hard-earned democratic achievements.

Because situations differ from one country to another, the paths the people of different countries take to win and develop democracy are different. Based on the specific conditions of China, the CPC and the Chinese people first engaged in a New Democratic Revolution, and after New China was founded in 1949, and proceeding from the actual situation of the primary stage of socialism, began to practice socialist democracy with its own characteristics. The experience over the past few decades has proved that embarking on this road of development of political democracy chosen by the Chinese people themselves not only realized the Chinese people’s demand to be masters of their own country, but is also gradually realizing their common ideal to build their country into a strong and modern socialist country. . . .

The experience of political civilization of mankind over a history of several millenniums is ample proof of the truth that the political system a country adopts and the road to democracy it takes must be in conformity with the conditions of that country. The socialist political democracy of China is rooted in the vast land of fertile soil on which the Chinese nation has depended for its subsistence and development over thousands of years. It grew out of the experience of the CPC and the Chinese people in their great practice of striving for national independence, liberation of the people and prosperity of the country. It is the apt choice suited to China’s conditions and meeting the requirement of social progress.

Then there is the choice part of the paper on “Respecting and Safeguarding Human Rights:”

Respecting and safeguarding human rights, ensuring that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedom according to law, represents an intrinsic requirement for the development of socialist democracy. Socialist democracy means that all power of the state belongs to the people and people enjoy in real terms the civil rights prescribed in the Constitution and law. China’s socialist democracy is a kind of democracy built on the basis that citizens’ rights are guaranteed and constantly developed.

As a committed representative of the Chinese people’s fundamental interests, the CPC has always taken as its basic task the maintenance of national sovereignty and independence, as well as the safeguarding and development of the various rights of the people, and regards the rights to subsistence and development as the paramount human rights. The CPC adheres to taking development as the task of first importance, implements the scientific concept of putting the people first and seeking an overall, coordinated and sustainable development, and strives to promote economic development and social progress to satisfy the people’s multiple needs and realize their all-round development.

The Chinese Constitution comprehensively stipulates the citizens’ basic rights and freedoms. Based on the Constitut ion, China has enacted a series of laws on the protection of human rights, and set up a relatively comprehensive legal system for the protection of human rights. On the basis of achievements made over the 50-plus years of economic and social development, the Chinese people are now enjoying human rights more comprehensive and fuller than they have ever enjoyed in the past.

All I can say is read my “Introduction and Overview” of China’s Bloody Century (here), and note that even with the recent advance in freedom of the Chinese people (still not democracy, even electorally), as Michael Backman says (from here):

China routinely executes hundreds and sometimes thousands of its citizens each year. There were 27,120 death sentences reported in China’s official media in the 1990s and more than 18,000 confirmed executions. More than 50 crimes are punishable by death. Famously, relatives of the executed are invoiced for bullets used in the dispatch.

Pre-trial confessions are still relied on extensively in place of forensic evidence and although torture is illegal it is still used to extract confessions. It is likely that many innocent people are executed each year on the basis of such “confessions”.

The legal system is poorly resourced. Many judges are poorly trained. They are nominated by local and provincial party committees and approved by local people’s congresses. The congresses provide the salaries, housing and other benefits for judges, many of whom are former military personnel with little or no legal training. There is not even a pretence of judicial independence: judges are expected to discuss sensitive cases with members of their local Communist Party political-legal committees before making rulings..

As to the Chinese Communist Party’s after 1949 beginning to “practice socialist democracy with its own characteristics,” what these characteristics were is well illustrated in the pie chart below.


Link of Note

“[China's] DF-5 (CSS-4) INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE

:

The Dong Feng-5 (DF-5, NATO codename: CSS-4) is China’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle (CALT, also known as 1st Aerospace Academy), it is a silo-based, two-stage, liquid propellant ballistic missile. The missile carries a single 3 megatons nuclear warhead and has an effective range of 12,000km. The DF-5A is the improved variant with an extended range. The PLA currently deploys approximately 24~36 of this missile deployed in central China.

Following the success of the DF-4 (CSS-3) long-range ballistic missile, in 1964 China began to develop its first true ICBM capable of reaching the United States. The same design was also later used to develop China’s Chang Zheng (Long March) family space launch vehicle and became the foundation of the Chinese space programme.

RJR: And liberals and libertarians oppose our development of a missile space shield, which they still derisively call “Star Wars.” But, they offer no alternative defense except massive retaliation against Chinese ICBMs. Keep in mind what this would mean — the killing of tens of millions of Chinese people in retaliation for what a gang of Chinese communist thugs have done.


Links I Must Share

Terrorism Knowledge Base
RJR: this is an incredible resource, and even enables you to generate online your own terrorism time series charts.

Transparancy International
RJR: Provides a corruption index for most nations. Least corrupt is Iceland, U.S. is ranked 17th, under Germany and Hong Kong. At the bottom is Chad. China is 78th, along with Morocco, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Suriname. It seems from scanning the ranks that the democracies are the least corrupt. If no one correlated these ranking with democratic freedom, I will.


“Death With A Smile”
A docudrama of China’s Cultural Revolution


Public Opinion In China

January 11, 2009

If China goes democratic, the world goes democratic. Because of its power, size, and the location, China is now the linchpin of global democratization. It is therefore important for American foreign policy and for those of us who comment on it to have a correct perspective on events in China. Wenfang Tang’s book on China, Public Opinion and Political Change in China (2005), is important in this regard. It is based on a 1999 Six-City-Survey and ten other surveys conducted by the Economic Reform Institute of China in the later 1980’s and early 1990’s. The 1999 survey was done on a stratified randomization sample.

Obviously, there will be a fear factor involved in questions that bear on the regime in some way. Tang believes this has been controlled for by the questions asked and their analyses. I’m not so sure, especially since members of the residential council, the lowest grassroots state-party unit for controlling the population, often took the interviewers to a household, introduced them to a family, and explained the interview. At one time, it was that the council that had to approve any travel, and even house guests, but that might have changed. I could not find anything to update their power and activities.

Anyway, the analysis is not only a percentage breakdown of answers and cross tabulations, but also involved factor analysis and the multiple regression of responses in terms of age, CCP membership, family income, socio-political attitudes, city, education, sex, and so on. These analyses were well done.

You may remember that I predicted that the CCP will be history in five-years. By context, I did not mean that China would then become democratic, but rather it would change significantly in a democratic direction. Do any of Tang’s findings cause me to change this prediction? Below is a summary of his conclusions (Quotation marks omitted), and those in line with my prediction are underlined:

Findings confirm that China’s Communist Party (CCP) clearly has a significant role in manipulating public opinion and in curbing mass political behavior. The party continued to control public opinion gathering, censor any open debate and criticism of the party’s legitimacy; and allow only parochial opinions to be voiced.

The CCP showed effectiveness in mobilizing popular support for the current party-state political system and official ideologies. This systemic impact also was reflected in rising political conservatism and a declining sense of political efficacy in the 1990’s. All these factors are consistent with the literature on Communist politics that emphasizes the negative consequences of political control.

Popular dissatisfaction with the cost of market reform was growing in China as the world moved toward democratization, yet support for China’s authoritarian political structure and for the party was still surprisingly high. While media control and censorship were never subtle, growing media diversification and consumption clearly increased public confidence in media and nurtured citizen initiated political participation, pro-Western feelings, a sense of political efficacy, and civic values.

Although China’s civil society was not based on participation in voluntary associations, interpersonal trust was unexpectedly high and led to liberal values just as it did in democratic societies. Even more interestingly, the CCP itself, while acting as a “dictator,” was showing signs of a voluntary association that bred interpersonal trust.

While direct and open challenges to the CCP were suppressed and the sense of political efficacy was declining in the 1990’s, voicing public opinion at the grassroots level was surprisingly common, and the channels for doing so became wider and more effective.

Although labor unions continued to function as an instrument of party control at the workplace, they served to protect workers’ welfare and job security and to facilitate solutions for labor disputes and employee participation in managerial decision making.

While most outside observers put their hope for China’s democratization in the hands of dissidents and non-party intellectuals, the findings clearly showed that demands for political change and liberalization were raised more consistently by intellectuals within the party itself.

There is no evidence of an increasingly rebellious public. In contrast, findings indicate that support for the regime and its legitimacy was growing in the 1990’s. An explanation for the political system’s decreasing effectiveness is the retreat of the CCP. Although the very foundation of the CCP cannot be challenged, over time it has actually reduced its efforts to control public opinion and behavior at the grassroots level.

In certain areas, economic growth and marketization are more important in shaping public opinion and mass political behavior in urban China than traditional values or even the authoritarian political system. Market reform polarized public opinion, dividing various groups based on how much they supported the regime and reform, as well as on how much they gained or benefited, or whether they were winners or losers.

In China, the paternalistic political tradition in the state-society relationship is still prevalent, except among a small group of party elite and political dissidents. It seems that outside pressure to speed up political reform is relevant only if one agrees that China’s current “modernization” mentality is a result of manipulation of public opinion by the elite. If the current public mood is instead a true reflection of the broader public need, advocating post-modern values at this point is unlikely to make a significant difference.

Chinese public opinion can be volatile. Changes in urban life since the mid-1990’s have been everything but gradual. Newspaper and television consumption exploded, growing more than tenfold from 1979 to 2002. Indeed, the public mood has experienced a great leap forward toward material consumption. Further, the volatility of public mood is also fueled by the massive restructuring of social interest during market reform, paired with the decline of central planning. The disappearance of the traditional social safety net and job security on one hand, and the growing income gap on the other, have stirred up many labor disputes and social tension. For example, income satisfaction among urban residents dropped from about 55% in May 1987 to around 15% in May 1989. This volatility in levels of public satisfaction represented a major challenge to continued economic reform and political stability during the 1989 urban protest.

One has to wear very large blinders not to see any improvement in the mechanisms that link public opinion and government decision making, including the recent development in implementing rural and urban local elections, the growing importance of the legal system, the rising political activism of the media, and the increased responsiveness of the government ombudsman system. The party’s effort to mobilize citizens through the media has resulted in an increase in autonomous political participation and a sense of political efficacy. Party intellectuals, a group more frequently exposed to political mobilization, have turned out to demand more political opening up than others.

Public opinion in 1989 was anticorruption and anti-market reform, with a weak desire for democracy and freedom. From these facts, we know that the 1989 urban protests were not primarily a pro-democratic movement. This interpretation is different from the one based on the highly visible Statue of Liberty and the slogan “Give me liberty or give me death.” Yet, these findings were drawn from a more solid empirical foundation than either the sculpture or the slogan (which was printed on a poster in China in 1989).

Although sporadic and rare, public protests can be effective in changing decision making and forcing the government to compromise.

Sometimes a protest may not indicate a crisis of the party’s legitimacy. In some areas, the CCP is playing the role of a mediator, letting interest groups confront each other rather than fight against the state itself.

It is difficult to imagine that any regime, democratically elected or not, can sustain itself for very long without considering public opinion. The Chinese rulers, long before the invention of modern elections, compared public opinion to the river and the state to the boat — a boat that, if misguided, could easily be overturned. Thus, there is this new emphasis by the CCP on public opinion surveys.


Related Link

“China’s first Cultural Revolution museum exposes Mao’s war on ‘bourgeois culture'”:

The frightened figure in the picture is a Chinese opera star. His hair is grasped tightly in a Red Guard’s fist and he is being denounced during the Cultural Revolution, the ideological frenzy which destroyed millions of lives in China between 1966 and 1976.

RJR: This is a private museum displaying in pictures the horrors of this period, and the CCP permitted it to be set up.

“The Dark Side of China’s Rise” By Minxin Pei:

China’s economic boom has dazzled investors and captivated the world. But beyond the new high-rises and churning factories lies rampant corruption, vast waste, and an elite with little interest in making things better. Forget political reform. China’s future will be decay, not democracy.

“Me and the Internet.”  By Liu Xiaobo:

Today, there are more than 100 million Internet users in China. . . . in recent years, the Internet has vastly brought out the awakening of ideas about rights and the defense of civil rights among the Chinese people.  This caused the current government to become worried.  They have placed great importance on controlling speech and blocking information on the Internet in order to exert ideological control.  They invested huge amounts of capital on the Golden Shield project and hired many Internet police.  They used economic incentives to force the western Internet companies in China to cooperate with their Internet control. Yet, insofar as my personal experience is concerned, the effect of the Internet in improving the state of free expression in China cannot be underestimated.  Even under the present reality with increasingly severe censorship and more cases of persecution for expression, the Internet has still helped the mainland people greatly.

hina


The Washington Post Exhibits Its Leftism to China

December 30, 2008

[First published March 15, 2005] Recently, Philip Bennett, Managing Editor of The Washington Post, was interviewed by Yong Tang, People’s Daily Washington-based correspondent ( interview here). The biased leftism disclosed by Bennett is chilling and dangerous when one considers that we are at war, that he is speaking to the Chinese ruling thugs and people, and that China supports the terrorists and the other anti-democratic thugs of the world. So far, the media comments on the interview, including by conservatives, have not really caught much of what I find damning. So, I am quoting below the most revealing parts of the interview. I am not including the questions by Yong, unless necessary for understanding Bennett’s answer. I have tried to keep quotations in context so that they will not be misleading.

Bennett: The world image of US is so clearly linked to its foreign policy and particularly its policy toward Iraq and Middle East, say its support of HYPERLINK “http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/data/israel.html”Israel and its occupation of Iraq. . . . Another source of the resentment is the perception that Bush administration wants to act unilaterally in the world, outside of alliance that traditionally governed the ways Bush made foreign policy decisions.

RJR: A perception for which Bennett’s management of the news is partly responsible.

Bennett: The Bush administration believes that there isn’t a contradiction between defending its self-interest and promoting friendly and democratic regimes. Because they believe that promoting those kinds of governments would make the world more friendly to the US and therefore it is in the interest of America to do that.

RJR: He just does not understand the Bush foreign policy. True, democracies will be friendlier to the U.S., but the basic drive of the policy is that it will promote peace and an end to terrorism.

Yong Tang: Since the standard is not applied equally in the world, it is damaging Bush’s effort to promote the so-called democracy, isn’t it?

Bennett: If you look around the world in strategically important places, is the US actively engaged there promoting democracy or not? I don’t think there is much evidence that promoting democracy is what the US is doing. It is what it says it is doing.

RJR: My God, how can he not see what Bush has done in, or regarding, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, Egypt, and Indonesia?

Bennett: No, I don’t think US should be the leader of the world. . . . I also think it is unhealthy to have one country as the leader of the world. That is also a sort of colonial question. The world has gone through colonialism and imperialism. We have seen the danger and shortcomings of those systems. If we are heading into another period of imperialism where the US thinks itself as the leader of the area and its interest should prevail over all other interests of its neighbors and others, then I think the world will be in an unhappy period.

RJR: He simply does not understand that if the U.S. does not lead, some other country or countries will, such as France and Germany, or even China as her power grows. He also shares the view of many on the left about U.S, imperialism.

Yong Tang: So the world order should be democratic?

Bennett: Democracy means many things. How do you define democracy? As a Chinese journalist, you may have your own definition of democracy which corresponds to your history and your way of seeing the world. I may have another definition. Someone else may have their own definitions. Democracy means a lot of different things. . . . So democracy is not a cure that could turn everything bad into good. It has its own advantages and its disadvantages.

RJR: There you have it. Hardly an encouragement to democratic forces in China

Bennett: We have a little bit different roles in newspapers compared with our counterparts in Europe and other countries. We don’t have any political point of view that we are trying to advance. We don’t represent any political parties. We are not tied to any political movement. On the news side of the paper we try not to give opinions.

RJR: Typical we-just-report-the-news view of the liberals and leftists who run the major American media.

Bennett: One of the jobs of our correspondents in Baghdad is to tell our readers what the Bush administration is trying to hide. Bush says democracy is advancing in Iraq, but our correspondents say the situation there is much more complex than that. Our job is to put that in the public domain and challenge the government and hold them accountable.

The government of the US is becoming much more secretive, much more hostile to the press in terms of giving us access to the information. So a lot of what we do here is to fight for access to the information that we think the public should have. . . .It is true that in the areas of national security many more things are becoming secrets since after 9/11. So it is a big thing for The Washington Post to be the first major newspaper in America to publish the pictures about the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prisoners abuse scandal. . . . So our reporters are trained, encouraged and supported in going out and finding things that the government is trying to hide from the public. That is a lot of what we do.

RJR: So, he wants to, in effect and blindly, act as the intelligence service for the enemy.

Bennett: Where the news gathering part of the Post failed was to be sufficiently skeptical about the administration’s claims that there are weapons of mass destructions in Iraq. . . . For me, this episode is a good example of how difficult it is to independently verify the government’s claims when the government is lying to you. . . .

RJR: This is one of the most prevalent and enduring mantras among the left. I’ve heard and read virtually all of Bush’s speeches on foreign policy, and he did not lie. He said what he believed, based on intelligence reports to him from not only the CIA, but the intelligence services of other democracies. Moreover, we are now finding out that indeed there was WMD in Iraq that Hussein had removed just before our invasion.

Bennett: Neither The Washington Post, nor The New York Times, nor any other big newspapers, refer to China today as a dictatorship regime. We don’t use these words on the paper any more. Now we say China is a communist country only because it is a fact. China is ruled by the Communist party. . . . On the contrary, we are trying to understand the complexity of China. . . . There are many things happening now in China. Sometimes it is extraordinarily contradictory because it is a big country and it is a country which includes many things happening at the same time.

RJR: Freedom house rates China among the worst in political rights and just below worst in civil liberties for 2004. Its thugs judicially execute more of its subjects than any other regime (from which still warm bodies they harvest the organs for top officials or for sale); return to Kim Jong Il’s hands thousands of poor North Koreans who have escaped from his border to border prison, many to be executed; beat, torture, and kill those who just want to exercise their religion; and allow no freedom of political speech. Moreover, they rule by conquest Tibet, Sinkiang (sovereign and independent as The Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkistan until invaded by communist forces in 1950), and all of Manchuria, never fully part of China until taken over by the communists.

Bennett: When I went to China, I felt I was seeing into the future. I think it is a deeply fascinating country. Every time when I go there, I see and learn things that I never expect to see and learn. It is a country with such beauty and potential. I also think how China resolve the challenges it face today will be a major force to decide the future of the planet . . .

I was very impressed by the degree of preparation, engagement, knowledge and vision that they [ruling thugs] have of China and China’s role in the world. There is no more complex job in the world in trying to run and administer a country so big with so many different issues, with people living in good wealth and poverty as well. The job is much more difficult than being an American President though they are different jobs in some ways.

RJR: Yes, you know, not much difference between a communist thug whose rule depends on his henchmen’s guns, and a democratically elected president, whose leadership depends on the support of the people. They are just “different jobs in different ways.” Deep sigh.


Link of Note

”China Puts Threat to Taiwan Into Law” (3/14/05) By Philip P. Pan, The Washington Post

BEIJING, March 14 — China enacted a law Monday authorizing the use of force against Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence, codifying its long-standing threat to attack the island. The measure could provoke a popular backlash in Taiwan and quickly unravel recent progress in cross-strait relations.

The National People’s Congress, the ruling Communist Party’s rubber-stamp parliament, approved the anti-secession law by a vote of 2,896 to 0, with two abstentions, defying U.S. appeals for restraint and strong protests by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian as well as some of his political rivals.

It is interesting to follow up the Post’s Managing Editor’s interview above with the papers’ treatment of the latest move by China’s ruling Hu Jintao. Pan does mention that the “law” was passed by the China’s rubber-stamp parliament (which some media do not mention), but the rest of the article’s tone gives more meaning to the “law” than it deserves. This is not a law in a democratic sense. It is not something passed by an elected legislature that governs the people and government. It is, pure and simple, a tool for misleading its own subjects and the world, and to lay down a marker to the United States and Taiwan. No law as we understand it governs China. In place of law are only communist party dictates that its thugs can violate or change as they will.


China’s Cultural Revolution–A Docudrama

December 23, 2008

[First published May 11, 2005] When Mao Tse-tung launched his so-called Cultural Revolution in China in 1966, it was nothing less than a bloody civil war between the Maoist faction and that of Liu Shao-chi, China’s president and Mao’s heir apparent, a battle between Mao’s revolutionary fervor and Liu’s moderate economic policies and relaxation of communist control.

Mao’s supporters mobilized secondary school kids, university students, and other young people into what the Maoists called the Red Guards. These youths beat up and killed people they thought to be bourgeois or counter-revolutionaries. They invaded homes at will, ransacking belongings while seeking proof of subversive activities. Just a shortwave radio, just some Western music, just foreign language publications, even photographs branded residents as traitors. This meant their death.” This terror, plus pitched battles as Red Guard fought Red Guard, “leftist” military units fought “leftist” military units, and “conservative” workers and peasants fought both killed upwards of 10,000,000 Chinese, a bloody toll that is about 18 times the 558,052 killed in the American Civil War, and even greater than the 9,000,000 killed in World War I.

Still, these are just indigestible statistics. Just numbers. So, as I did yesterday for Pakistan’s genocide in East Pakistan, maybe a little fictional story so typical of what happened to many will give some human meaning to the numbers.

***
As an aspiring chemist attending a university in Shanghai, Chen Ying was a very serious student. Although attractive, she shunned boys in favor of studying in her room — her solitary home except for classes and trips to the library or chemistry laboratory.

Her dedication to science made her suspect. While she attended classes, Red Guards invaded her room and rampaged through it looking for evidence incriminating her as anticommunist, pro-Western — a capitalist-roader. They found all they needed: physics and chemistry books in English , and her diary. The diary damned her; it contained critical remarks she’d foolishly written about the Communist Party.

Security police arrested Chen Ying as she left her chemistry class, and took her to the municipal jail. There, teenage Red Guards tortured her for the names of the accomplices aiding her in spying on the Communist Party.

A young girl, no more than sixteen years old, in a Red Guard uniform grunted as she forced the large butterfly screw on the thumb crusher another quarter turn. Chen Ying screamed hoarsely and jerked her head, spraying tears and mucus around her as tremors wracked her body. Slivers of bone glinted white in the ruin of her other thumb, which the Red Guard had already mashed into a bloody pulp.

Two boys held her down and took turns yelling at her, “Confess. You are a spy. Who do you spy for?”

Pain was her universe. She shuddered and quaked with it. It made her dizzy and nauseous. It had made her release her bowels and she squirmed in her own waste. Twice already she had vomited. One of the boys had cupped a rag in the vomit and smeared it over her face.

Between the shouted demands of the boys and her screams, she could hear bone cracking in her left thumb.

She struggled to remember that name, just that one name, that’s all she now desired. But the excruciating pain of the thumb crusher destroyed all Chen Ying’s thoughts, thwarted all memory.

Then the agony leveled off and receded slightly. Impossible agony now became unbearable pain as somehow her body fed her system enough endorphins. And just at the edge of her mind, almost within her grasp, it was there. She fought to pull that name through the agony.

A new burst of pain drove it away; desperate, she tried to change her focus to chemical formulas. She only could recall H2O — water. Agonizing seconds seemed minutes. She thought of CO2 for carbon dioxide, and bore down mentally. She battled the excruciating, burning pain. She struggled to imagine pushing the waves of pain aside with her hands to give her mind space to remember.

It was coming. There — the more complex formula for glucose. Then it almost escaped her in a new wave of pain. She caught it — C6H12O6.

Out of nowhere, the name she sought popped into her mind.

“Stop!” she screamed. “I will . . . confess.”

The girl at her side stopped turning the screw on the thumb crusher.

Gasping for breath, Chen Ying tried to get the name out before her pain submerged it. “Zhao Jin,” she whispered. Her voice broke on the last name. “I am . . . the . . . concubine of Zhao Jin.”

The girl looked shocked. Both boys leaned forward, staring at Chen Ying. One said, “Zhao Jin? You screw Zhao Jin?”

“Yes, I . . . spy . . . for him.” Now more strongly, she said, “That barrel of pig shit . . . said he would . . . protect me.”

“You lie,” the girl said, without conviction.

“Ask him. Why . . . would I lie? Nothing . . . can save me . . . I’ll soon die.”

The Red Guards said nothing more. The girl’s blood-flecked hands flew to unscrew the thumb crusher. She tossed it on a shelf with other torture instruments. Then she and the two boys left without a glance back.

Chen Ying waited for the inevitable. The pain lessened, and she was able to think. She imagined the results of her victory as she prepared herself for death.

A few minutes later, two uniformed policemen came in and lifted her by her arms. She screamed as the movement in her thumbs sent new waves of agony through her body. They force-marched her out to a small yard enclosed by high concrete walls.

One of the policemen forced her to her knees and pushed her head forward. The other took out his handgun and shot her in the back of the head.

There was the beginning of a smile on her face as it hit the dirt.

The next day, security officials invaded the home of Zhao Jin, the leader of the Maoist faction of Red Guards in Shanghai. A thorough search discovered a Japanese camera, an American radio, and a Western pornographic photograph. Security police arrested and tortured Zhao Jin, but he would not confess. Nonetheless, the items found in his home made Zhao Jin’s guilt clear. A week after police arrested him, they forced Zhao Jin to hang a large sign from his neck that proclaimed “I am a capitalist spy.” A cordon of security police led him to the Shanghai Workers’ Stadium. All along the way, people screamed at him and pelted him with stones, broken pieces of wood, and any other debris they could pick up. Finally, at the stadium, before a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands that the Maoists had gathered for this event, all beating the air with their little red Mao books and hollering revolutionary slogans, security police shot Zhao Jin to death.

Three days later, officials went to the home of Chen Ying’s mother. They told her that they had executed her daughter as a spy, and that the bullet was a waste of government money. The cost of the bullet, they said, was five fen — about three cents. Officials demanded she pay for the bullet the police had shot through the back of her daughter’s head.


Link of Note

”The Chinese Cultural Revolution: Autobiographical Accounts of a National Trauma” By Therese Hoffman

The best way to get a feel for the human meaning of a catastrophic event, such as the Cultural Revolution, is through autobiographies and refugee reports. Here is a good collection of the former, with context.


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China’s Democide Far Exceeds Japan’s

December 23, 2008

[First published April 24/ 2005] One series of headlines in the news last week concerned riots and demonstrations in China over Japan’s democide in China during the Sino-Japanese war, 1937-1945, which merged into World War II. For example, one AP lead was:

SHANGHAI, China (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister was set to travel to Beijing Sunday for talks aimed at defusing the worst tensions between the two Asian powers in decades, after about 20,000 Chinese demonstrators rioted over Tokyo’s wartime history and its bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat.

Thousands of police watched the protesters — some shouting “kill the Japanese” — rampage through Shanghai on Saturday but did little to restrain the crowd. Japan filed a strongly worded official protest, complaining that Chinese authorities failed to stop anti-Japanese violence for a third weekend in a row.

Demonstrating in China can get one executed, tortured, or assigned to a honey bucket (buckets carrying human waste) brigade for life. So, these demonstrations had to be organized by the communist regime, and obviously for the purpose of defeating Japan’s bid, with U.S. support, to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

I received an email from China in which the writer asked:

Do you remember me, a Chinese? I want to tell you our feelings towards Japanese. Everyone in our town, young or old, hate Japanese. You may ask why? The Japanese people have never recognize their crimes committed by Japanese troops during World War II. Mr. Rummel, we sincerely hope you tell American friends our feelings, the true feelings . Have you read report about recent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China ? We just want them to recognize their faults. We do not know you what the American people think? Could you tell me?

I wrote in return:

I guess you don’t know that your own communist regime murdered many more Chinese since 1949. I calculate that it murdered 35,000,000 Chinese, while Japan murdered about 3,900,000. Americans recognize the horror of the Japanese occupation of China, especially what is called the Rape of Nanking. However, they also recognize that the communists, especially Mao, were worse.

The poor Chinese writer probably has no idea what I’m talking about, if my email gets through the Chinese regime’s controls. He has been taught since birth, if he is much younger than I am, that the communists have brought peace, prosperity, justice, and freedom to China. And since no book, newspaper, magazine, TV and radio broadcast, speech, or demonstrators would dare disagree, it must be true.


Link of Note

China’s Bloody Century (1991) By R.J. Rummel

This book details the democide and war dead for the five major periods in China’s history from 1900 to 1987: The Manchu Dynasty until 1912, war lord period, the Nationalist (KMT) government under General Chiang Kai-shek, the Mao Tse-tung regime (Communist Party) from 1949-1976, and after. The chart below provides an overview of the sources of deaths. About 54,000,000 Chinese were murdered by one government/regime/party or another, 1900-1987. When one adds to this those Chinese killed in civil war, including that among the warlords, and war with foreign powers during the Boxer Rebellion and with Japan’s invasion beginning in 1937, the total rises to near 66,000,000. Then there were those man-made famines under the KMT, and then Mao, which jump the total dead in democide, war, and famine to 116,000,000.

No other people in our modern times have suffered and bled so much, not even the Russians.


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Love, Fear, And Death In Mao’s China

December 10, 2008

I urge those of you who are interested in China and what it is like to live under absolute communist totalitarianism to read any one of the many Chinese memoirs now coming out. Their virtue is that they provide feeling and insight into what it was like to live day-by-day under such a system. These memoirs get away from the cold abstractions of scholarly and journalistic books on China, and their sterile analyses and statistics. To understand Mao’s China, you have to take to heart and sense its reality for the people, and these memoirs help you do so.

The latest I’ve read is Son Of The Revolution by Liang Heng and his wife Judith Shapiro. It is not as well written as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, nor as historically far reaching, since her book covers the personal history of her family over three generations. But, Liang’s memoir is more detailed in its focus on his life and that of his mother and father. Moreover, unlike Chang’s parents and Chang herself, who were high Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadre, Liang and his parents were nothing but ordinary small city dwellers. His father was a reporter for a local newspaper and his mother worked for the local police.

His parents suffered incredibly from the various attempts by the CCP to cleanse China of bad thinkers, rightists, spies, and capitalist roaders. Of most interest to me was Liang’s experience as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. He lived in Changsha in central China, which was one of the more violent cities during this period. The Red Guards, nothing more than teenagers and even younger children, divided into enemy factions, each claiming to represent the true revolutionary spirit of Mao. Each had weapons handed out by the army or stolen from armories, including even cannon, machine guns, mortars, and so on. The Army and police were ordered to be neutral in the battles between factions, although they themselves often broke into warring groups.

Guns were everywhere, with young kids and even girls, strutting around with pistols tucked into their belts. The battle in the city was horrendous: bullets whizzing down the streets made it very dangerous for anyone to step outdoors. As happened throughout China, teachers, professors, high officials, and cadre were often beaten, tortured, and murdered as the Red Guards tried to purge the city of those whom they perceived as lacking proper support for the revolution, or who they saw as Mao’s enemies. Evidence of this could be owning a Western book, having distant relatives that escaped to Taiwan, a grandfather who had fought the communists during the civil war, a mother that let drop a criticism of the CCP, and so on.

Among the Red Guards and others involved, no matter the fighting faction, they fought for love of Mao. This is not a typo. It was for LOVE.

I have consistently pointed out how such totalitarian systems run on fear. That is well documented in this memoir. But there is something added, which was also there in Chung’s book and others, but I had not picked it up as I did here. That is love. Liang was born in 1954, just as the bloody “land Reform” campaign was completed, and before the establishment of the commune—the factorization of the peasant—and Great Leap Forward. From birth, therefore, Liang was subject to intensive and continuous daily brainwashing and the implantation of correct thought. Mao became everything: the “Red Sun,” the “Great Saving Star,” the “Great Helmsmen,” and the “Heart and Soul of China.” If I remember correctly, the second word he learned after that for his mother was Mao. The Chinese were taught that they owed everything good about their lives to him, and everything bad to the previous nationalist regime, American imperialism, rightists, or capitalist roaders. Hard as it is to believe, because of this “education” that he and other Chinese received, he loved Mao, as did Jung Chang, and as did everyone they knew. It was inconceivable to question or criticize him.

But with this love, there still was the constant fear. But not of Mao, since he was perceived, as they were taught, to have only their welfare and happiness in mind. But the fear was of the CCP cadre, of their classifying one as evil, or their accusing one of violating one of the plethora of rules that governed everyday life. The consequences could be horrendous: denial of ration tickets, being made to divorce one’s mate, being sent to the countryside, public denunciation, humiliation, lying confessions, arrest, torture, even execution. One had no protection against any of this, no media, no lawyers, no courts, and no constitution. Everyone was totally at the mercy of the communist cadre, even the cadre themselves were at the mercy of those higher up.

What a fantastic combination. Love for the man responsible for the daily horrors, while fearing the personal impact of these horrors. Of course, no one could conceive that these were Mao’s fault. It just had to be those bad people around him or lower down in the CCP.

A good review of the book by Xiaowei Zheng is here.


Links of Note

“‘20,000′ on death row worldwide”:

At least 1,770 executions took place last year in China, where a person could be sentenced and executed for non-violent crimes including tax fraud, embezzlement and drug offence….

“China’s military budget jumps 14%”:

China has said it will increase its military spending by 14.7% this year to 283.8bn yuan ($35.3bn ….)….China’s armed forces are the biggest in the world and have seen double-digit increases in military spending since the early 1990s…. Washington has several times accused China of understating its military budget. It said last year’s spend[ing] was not the $30bn stated but closer to $90bn.

“China’s role in genocide”:

At the United Nations last September, the Security Council passed Resolution 1564, threatening Sudan with oil sanctions unless it curbed the violence in Darfur. China immediately threatened to veto any move to actually impose sanctions, so the threat was rendered useless.

RJR: It has to do with Sudan’s oil.

“Feinstein insists U.S. not bound to protect Taiwan”:

In remarks certain to please visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday told a gathering of Chinese-American business and cultural leaders in San Francisco that the United States has no obligation to defend Taiwan if it provokes China into a military confrontation.”

RJR: If there is a hell for high officials that by their statements make war more likely, Feinstein is a strong candidate.

“Is the US asleep at the wheel?”:

US politicians and military officers think that Taiwan exists solely for the benefit of — or as a detriment to — US-China relations. This blissfully egocentric attitude has been the source of much confusion in cross-strait relations, and could lead Washington to make a major miscalculation jeopardizing its strategic position in the Western Pacific.

RJR: One problem is the near universal belief that Taiwan was before World War II part of China. It was not then or ever in the last century, nor did the treating ending the Japanese control of Taiwan (Formosa) give it to China. By treaty, its status is undetermined.

“Seeds of Fury”:

Protests are flaring across China’s countryside over everything from land seizures to corruption. In a nation of 900 million farmers, quelling this rising unrest may be Beijing’s greatest challenge…. By the central government’s own count, there were 87,000 “public-order disturbances” in 2005, up from 10,000 in 1994.

“Torture Exhibition:
Display of Crimes Against Conscience”
Not for the queasy.


“China’s Cultural Revolution — A Docudrama “


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