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.”

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

Rule by Decree Best for China?

April 22, 2009

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[First published August 29, 2005] It is rare these days that I will be aghast at what I read in the press, but the article, “In China, democracy equals disaster,” by Gary Hogan in the Baltimore Sun (here) did it. At first I thought it was a parody and smiled as I read the first few paragraphs, but then it became all too clear that this was serious. For the rest of my reading I must have looked as though I was reading one of those beamed-up-to-an-alien starship stories. When I finished, I had to double-check my calendar to make sure indeed that I had not been transported by some quirk of nature back to the 1960s when this sort of article was popular.

Hogan begins by extolling the “Four Pests” campaign by Mao soon after the communists seized China. It was an attempt to eliminate sources of disease, such as flies and mosquitoes, by decreeing a daily quota to be killed and turned in. “And it worked,” says Hogan, and he uses this successful campaign as a model for the way China should be run. Oh yes, there was the “disastrous” Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, “But rule by imperial decree was and is the best way to govern the planet’s largest nation. . . . For China must be controlled. Tightly. A centralized oligarchy is vital for this. Democracy would be disastrous for China, for the United States and for everyone.

He concludes this incredibly article this way:

Like it or not, communism – or to use the boilerplate popularized by Mr. Deng, a “socialist market economy” – with its matrix of failsafe controls strictly applied by the Beijing leadership elite, works for China. And a workable China is in the best interests of the United States.

There is no recognition that the eradication of pests by quota was coincident with the eradication of human beings by the millions and later by quota also. While he does recognize that the Great Leap Forward was disastrous, he seems not to see the human horror in it leading to the world’s greatest famine that may have killed 30-40 million Chinese. And while also recognizing the disaster that was the Cultural Revolution, he seems unaware of the human toll, which may have been as high as 10 million (my calculation is about 7 million). China’s Communist Party, the government of China, was and still is (with it being the greatest executioner in the world today) a killing machine. Living bodies in, corpses out.

Then Hogan seems content that Chinese have no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of association, no freedom to choose their leaders, no rule of law, no right to a fair trial. After all, they live in a “stable and predictable China, [which] is vastly preferable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of a 1.3 billion-strong democracy.”

I wish I could twitch my nose and as though a witch, whisk him off to live under this marvelously stable rule be decree.

Link of Note

China’s Bloody Century: Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview R.J. Rummel (1991)

I say:

Once control over all of China was won and consolidated, and the proper party machinery and instruments of control were generally in place, the communists launched numerous movements to systematically destroy the traditional Chinese social and political system and replace it with a totally socialist, top to bottom “dictatorship of the proletariat.” In the beginning their model was Stalin’s Soviet Union; Soviet advisors even helping to construct their own Gulag. Their principles were derived from Marxism-Leninism, as largely interpreted by Mao Tse-tung; their goals were to thoroughly transform China into a communist society. In this they were consistent with their beginnings, but they now had a whole country to work with, without the need to give tactical and strategic consideration to another force–the Nationalists or Japanese–seeking and capable of destroying them.

Now, beginning in 1950, carefully and nationally organized movement after movement rapidly followed each other: Land Reform, Suppressing Anti-communist Guerrillas, New Marriage system, Religious Reform, Democratic Reform, Suppressing Counterrevolutionaries, Anti-Rightist Struggle, Suppressing the “Five Black Categories,” etc. Each of these was a step towards the final communization of China; each was bloody. Self-consciously bloody. Witness what Mao himself had to say in a speech to party cadre in 1958: 

What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars. In the course of our repression of counter-revolutionary elements, haven’t we put to death a number of the counter-revolutionary scholars? I had an argument with the democratic personages. They say we are behaving worse than Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty. That’s definitely not correct. We are 100 times ahead of Emperor Shih of the Chin Dynasty in repression of counter-revolutionary scholars.

Only when these movements and especially the final, total collectivization of the peasants and “Great Leap Forward” destroyed the agricultural system, causing the world’s greatest recorded famine–[at least] 27,000,000 starved too death–did the communist begin to draw back from or slacken their drives. Shortly after this famine, in the mid-1960s, an intra-party civil war erupted between Mao Tse-tung and his followers, who wanted to continue the mass-based revolution, and a more moderate, pragmatically oriented faction. This “cultural revolution” probably cost near [10 million] lives. Mao won, but only temporarily. With his death soon after, the pragmatists and “capitalist roaders” regained power and launched China in a more open, economically experimental direction; even, until the Tianamen Square demonstrations and subsequent massacres of 1989, on a more liberal path.

So, overall, counting the democide, nondemocidal famine, and battle dead, the total cost of Chinese communism has been about 73 million lives. But, they did temporarily eradicate the flies and mosquitoes

China’s Cultural Revolution
A Docudrama

“Please Now, Rest In Peace:” A Docudrama on Mao’s China

April 8, 2009

[First published May 16, 2005] I was not at home when police arrested my husband, Peng. As I approached our home on my bicycle after shopping, I saw him, handcuffed, being pushed into one of two police cars. I knew immediately that I would probably never see him again.

All the scientists at the institute understood that arrest was a possibility. As scientists, they had interacted with foreigners, had read foreign publications, and therefore were always in danger of having such normal activities misunderstood or misinterpreted by the Red Guards. Peng and I had prepared, as had so many others, for such an eventuality.

I quickly pedaled my bicycle past the police cars and down a side street. I could hardly steer it, I was shaking so much. My feet shuddered off the pedals several times. My breath caught in my throat; my stomach knotted. The devastating thought, Peng, my poor, dear husband Peng, kept beating in my mind. I could barely see through the tears that stung my eyes.

I wonder now how I stayed upright on my bike and didn’t crash into the police cars or a tree. I knew if I did, the police would discover who I was and arrest me. The Red Guards often jailed whole families. I steered the wobbly bike around a corner, around another corner, and into some bushes. I dragged it behind the bushes and fell on the ground, beating the earth with my fists, and sobbed into the dirt for my husband and our lives, now totally destroyed.

Maybe an hour or two later, emotionally and physically exhausted, I used the bottom of my dress to clean by face and wipe my eyes. I ignored the food that had fallen out of the bike’s rear basket. I knew what I had to do.

I headed for my cousin’s small dim sum restaurant on Yunnan Lu Road. There, I hid my bicycle in the rear among the garbage cans. I entered through the back door.

My cousin, Ding Xiaoshuang, was in the kitchen preparing meals with another cook. He was too skinny to look like a cook—cooking made him lose all taste for food, he said. Lack of a good chief’s fat might cast suspicion on the quality of his food, but his friendly, outgoing nature compensated for that. About every fifteen minutes he toured the restaurant, asking customers how they were, what their children were doing, and how they liked his dim sum. He always suggested his custard tarts as a treat.

Ding looked at me without surprise when I came in the back door. This was one of the signals we had planned if Red Guards, soldiers, or some other faction arrested one or the other of us. Otherwise, I would have come in the front door of the restaurant.

No doubt my eyes were puffy and red. “Hello, cousin,” Ding said, as mindful of his cook working nearby as I was in hiding my face from him. Moving towards the stairs to his apartment above the restaurant, Ding added, “I have that present for Peng you wanted me to get. Come on upstairs and I’ll give it to you.”

I had so far not said a word. I followed Ding up the stairs. We moved towards the room at the front, where Ding’s cook and the waitresses hustling in and out of the kitchen would be least likely to hear us.

He put both his arms around me, and I quietly wept into his chest. He just held me tight and rubbed my back with one hand. He had never seen my tears before. He knew what would cause them. He didn’t hurry me, but he risked arousing his cook’s suspicion, so I knew I had to stop. I fought for control.

Peng and I had been married for only a year. I had met him at a conference at the institute, where I had served as a lab assistant. I had a degree in physics and had participated in experiments on magnetic propulsion, his chief area of research. I found Peng, with his tall, athletic build and his strong Manchurian features, handsome; he often attracted the stares and smiles of strangers when we ambled down the street—although he claimed they were admiring my willowy figure.

After we were married, we tried to reduce the risk of arrest. Only Peng worked at the institute, and we cleared our home of everything foreign. We concealed as much as possible from those at the institute the fact that we were married—as I mentioned, whole families were often arrested—and that both of us spoke and read English.

As I pulled back from my cousin and rubbed my eyes to clear them, Ding asked me in a subdued voice, “What do you want to do now? I haven’t touched what you and Peng prepared. Do you want to flee to Hong Kong?”

Wearily, I answered, “No. I first want to be sure about what happened to Peng.”

Ding had to lean forward to hear me. I tried to raise my voice but only increased its quaver. “This might only be a warning or harassing arrest, and he might be home within a week or so.” More firmly, I added, “I must find out. Can I hide here until I do?”

Ding hesitated. He took my hand and held it in both of his. “I think I can find out for you. You know my dim sum is famous,” he whispered proudly, “and I get many prison guards with their families coming here to eat. When one of them gave a party for his son’s graduation, I offered to cater it. There were over one hundred relatives, friends, and their families there. The food was sumptuous, I must admit, and I gave him a big cut on the cost. Now I can get my payment, yes?”

“How often does that guard eat here?”

“About once every one or two weeks, and I think he was here about a week ago.”

I didn’t have to think about that. I wanted to know. Absolutely. “Then I’ll wait. I’m leaving now, so that no one gets suspicious. I’ll come back after you close at . . . when, eleven?”

“Right.” He took a rag out of his back pocket and carefully wiped my face with it, and leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. “Be careful, now. Oh, here, take this package and make believe it’s the present I mentioned.”

I straightened up and went down the stairs first. At the bottom, I turned and yelled up with false cheer, “Thanks cousin, Peng will really like this.”

I headed for the waterfront on my bike, where I could bury myself and my heartbreak among the crowds.

Ding met me at the back door when I returned that night. “Peng’s dead,” he told me, reaching to hold me. “I’m sorry.”

I’d known it was coming. Now it was real. I staggered under the blow of his words, and sagged into his arms.

“You have to escape,” Ding continued. “Go to Hong Kong.”

Through his contacts in the Shanghai harbor market where he often bought fish for his restaurant, Ding knew a fishmonger named Wen who dealt with freighter captains that could be bribed. Much later, in his room, when I had stopped sobbing, he tore a small piece from a sheet of rice paper on his worktable and scribbled a message on it. He brought it back to me and, pressing it gently into my hand, said, “Give this to Wen. If the police stop you before you see him, you can easily swallow and digest it.”

I sought Wen first thing in the morning.

He was easy enough to find. He sold tuna filets at the market in the third stall nearest the dock. After looking over several filets, I asked Wen for one. When I paid him, I included the note. He took it with the money and placed it in the bottom of his moneybox, so that only he could read it. Closing the box, he told me to come back at 4:30, when he could give me a special deal on fish.

When I returned at the appointed time, a thin young boy stood with Wen. When Wen saw me approaching, he said something to the boy, who then moved from behind the fish table. As he brushed by me, he whispered, “Follow me.”

I followed him through the market crowd, out onto the Shanghai docks, and into Dadong Warehouse through a small side door. I found myself in a small room that smelled of long-dead fish and rotting wood. Rope, hooks, canvas, and bags of all descriptions were heaped in corners and against two walls. The place was so dirty that I halted and flinched back as I entered.

The boy spoke for the first time since we’d left the market. “Turn around and face the door and be still.” He studied me for a moment, eyes curious. He twitched his shoulders as though shrugging, turned, and swiftly disappeared out the door.

I could hear muffled sounds from the warehouse and occasional yells from dockworkers outside. An engine roared in the distance. I was beginning to worry about Wen setting me up to be kidnapped into the Chinese sex trade. This sometimes happened on the docks.

A door opened and closed on the other side of the room. Softly at first, then louder, I heard footsteps approaching behind me. As the person drew closer, I heard heavy breathing. The person stopped. The breathing got louder. I twitched my nose at the added stench.

I jumped at a sudden, unpleasant sound.

“Name?” a man’s voice rasped in the most awful Chinese. I thought I recognized a Portuguese accent.

“Gu . . . Gu Yaping,” I said, trying to keep my voice firm.

“Got jewel?” the voice grated.

“Yes.” In the emergency store that Ding had hidden for us, Peng and I had included most of our family jewels, especially several antique jade rings and miniature ivory statues left to us when our parents died. The items were worth thousands of dollars on the black market.

“Give me.”

I spun around and saw an older Caucasian man in a dark blue coat with two stripes on each sleeve. He wore an officer’s cap with salt-tarnished, fake gold braid. His face was barely visible, but its red complexion and his bulbous nose could not be missed.

“No,” I said, speaking pidgin Chinese, “you get when go on ship.”

The man asked, “You go Hong Kong?”


“You fuck on ship?”

I gasped. I felt my face get hot. I suddenly shivered in the warm room.

The man stared at my hips, trying to imagine me naked, I guessed. He then unhurriedly raised his eyes to my blouse, apparently judging my hidden breasts. I wore a shapeless white blouse and it hung loosely over my gray slacks. I had done my best to hide my femininity, not only out of traditional modesty in public, but so as not to invite any propositions in the docks, where many prostitutes worked their trade. But, I couldn’t hide everything.

I forced myself to stand still, stop trembling, and endure his lusty inspection. I had to. I was not dumb. I knew that, once aboard his ship, he could take my jewels, kill me, and throw my body in the Huangpu River as the ship traveled to the sea. All that would keep him interested in keeping me alive would be sex and the promise of more sex.

Now blushing at what I must do, I lowered my head a little and looked at him demurely out of the corner of my eye. I whispered, “Yes.”

“Do now. Take off clothes.”

Well, I thought, what choice do I have? This was not going to be a strip tease. I promptly set a personal speed record in taking off my clothes, and let them fall anywhere. I stood naked with a straight back, head high, looking into his eyes, willing my knees not to shake. He probed me with his eyes, hurriedly took off his coat, tossed it on the dirty floor, and motioned me to lie down on it.

As hasty as he was to gratify his lust, I was more anxious to get this over with. I dropped down and spread my legs, turning my head away from him. He did nothing more than pop the buttons on his trousers to spring his erection free and fall on top of me. Straightaway he tried to enter me, but I was too dry. It was painful. I motioned for him to stop. I might have had more success in halting the charge of a bull. I had to grab his shaft in one hand to get him to stop long enough for me to spit on the fingers of my other hand and moisten his penis as best I could. Then I guided him into me.

As he vigorously pumped back and forth, my body jerked in unison. It was nothing to me but forced physical exertion, but I knew to save my life I had to fake pleasure. I moaned and put my legs around his back and moved my hips in rhythm with his. Fortunately, the time he took to ejaculate was almost shorter than it took to pronounce the word. I had to rush to lower my legs, reach between them, and pull his quivering penis out. I slid down and managed to put it in my mouth a second before he came.

Damned if I’ll get pregnant, I thought, spitting everything out.

Afterwards, he lay on me and stroked my breasts. Finally, getting his breath, he murmured, “Good.”

I pitied this man’s frustrated girlfriends.

He got up, helped me to my feet, and again devoured my naked body with his eyes for a few minutes. Finally, he picked up his coat, shook the dirt off it, and motioned for me to get dressed. While watching me cover myself, he said, “Go to Longwu Port dock by Longwu Road. At 1 AM. You know?”

I felt sick and dirty. My tears seemed to have a will of their own. I struggled not to show them, but I felt one escape down the side of my face. “Yes,” I whispered.


“Yes, I be there,” I said, more loudly than I’d intended.

The man disappeared without another word.


When the Portuguese freighter Bartholomeu Dias docked in Hong Kong, among the many boxes unloaded was one labeled “Toys” in Chinese. Customs passed the box, as did a British inspector who beat on three sides of the box with his baton to make sure it was full and not hiding a refugee. A small truck picked up the box and took it to the bustling market on Tung Choi Street. There, two men unloaded the heavy box in front of a small women’s dress shop and lugged it through the front door and into the rear, where they dropped it on the floor with a loud thunk.

The owner of the shop, Wu Jin, a thin man in his thirties whose thick, black-framed glasses dominated his face, signed for the delivery, and then impatiently waited on two women in the shop. When they left, Wu closed and locked the front door, then rushed into the rear. He pried open the box, flung aside the toys and stuffed animals inside, and then saw me.

I was curled up in the box, my chin touching my knees. I turned my head slowly and looked up at him with what must have been weary, red-rimmed eyes. Suffering and fatigue had etched years onto my face, I’m sure. I whispered huskily, “Hello, third cousin. I see you got Ding’s message.”

I tried to get out of the container, but fell back. Wu bent over me and, with a grunt, lifted me out. I moaned and put a hand over my abused crotch as he carried me over to a Chinese low chest and set me down on it. I must have lost ten pounds.

Weakly bracing myself with my hands to stay upright, I looked over at the container and saw the label. “Toys from China,” I murmured. Yes, I thought, how appropriate. I had been a sex toy for half the ship. But I’m alive.

My hand trembled when I raised it to my lips. I kissed the palm, then tilted my head back and blew the kiss toward the ceiling. That’s for you, my sweetest. I made it and I will never forget you and what was done. Please now, rest in peace.

Not a Parody — China’s White Paper on Democracy

April 2, 2009

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[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



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.


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 “”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.

Yes, Power Kills

December 29, 2008

[First published January 12, 2006] This poem by Wing is nonspecific as to location. Just consider it an illustration of the historical principle that power kills. None of it is exaggerated.


By Wing Tek Lum

A dozen villagers are tied wrist to wrist in a small circle, and a grenade is tossed in the middle.

A fetus is gouged out of a pregnant woman to satisfy a bet by soldiers as to whether it is a boy or girl.

Refugees seeking shelter are locked in a house which is ringed with firewood and set on fire. Kerosene is poured onto a trio of peasants; the invaders take potshots to see who can ignite them.

A toddler is dropped into a well on a whim.

Marauding troops force an old man to shelter and cook for them; the next morning they throw him into a large kettle and boil him to death.

Out of the blue, a man’s throat is slit while he sits in a privy.

Surrendering prisoners of war clutch leaflets promising leniency, but are executed on the spot. Others who surrender are roped together in columns, and led away to die. Another prisoner is pulled out of a crowd and ordered to go down on all fours; a sergeant then sits down on top of his back to have his hair cut.

Another captor receives a watch as a bribe; suddenly full of pity, he lets two prisoners go, but somehow not the watch donor.

Two sub‑lieutenants start a contest to see who can behead one hundred men first. Heads that have been chopped off line a wall, ear to ear; another head has a cigarette butt popped into its mouth. By the side of a road, four bodies sit with their heads placed on their laps.

Soldiers ready to execute a student unexpectedly hear a woman’s voice nearby and give chase; the student is left on his knees, his pants leg soaked with urine.

Without warning, women are grabbed off the street, or their houses broken into, or a group of schoolgirls kidnapped to serve in a barracks. A clearing or park is turned into a makeshift brothel.

Nuns in a temple are raped, so are three generations in their own home, and out of curiosity, babies too. A company marches back to their bivouac: interspersed within a sea of uniforms the pale white flesh of their captives stands out.

Vaginas are stuffed with all manner of objects, even grenades; breasts are cut off. Flesh from a woman’s thigh is used as filling for dumplings. A live heart is cut out as an appetizer to be served with wine.

A guard is insulted seeing a young woman smoking in public; he forces her to strip naked, her hands bound behind with her belt. Returning home, she commits suicide.

An old woman with bound feet is forced to stand on a tree stump for hours; each time she falls off she is propped back up.

Published in TriQuarterly, Issue 122, Northwestern University. Wing Tek Lum is the 1970 Discovery Award winner.

Link of Note

“Mao Lives” By Arthur Wilson

AHYPERLINK “”rthur Waldron is the Lauder professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania and vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, D.C. In collaboration with Stuart Schram, he is currently editing the wartime writings of Mao Zedong
This is an excellent review of Chang and Halliday’s Mao. He provides a good context for understanding Mao, and is sympathetic to the book, without being uncritical. I cannot resist including one quote that expresses my own experience with American academics in this area and a reason for many negative reviews from them:

Even aligned with the USSR, however, Mao in power continued to be viewed favorably by most Western scholars and commentators. To be sure, confiscating and redistributing land from the rich to the poor involved bloodshed, as did the cleaning-up of such notoriously lawless cities as Shanghai. . . . These blemishes were duly noted, though never the scale of death and destruction they entailed. Always, Mao was seen as searching for new ways to build socialism, and on these grounds much if not everything could be forgiven him. . . . In the academic world, Mao’s achievements were extolled while the alternatives offered by the rival Nationalists, or by parties calling for parliamentary democracy, or by refugee critics were dismissed as hopeless dead ends. Scholars who dissented often paid with their careers. Certainly, it was concluded, Mao had shed blood as he “reformed” the system, and he had often shown a hard, authoritarian hand. But given the results, who could cavil? As the influential Harvard professor John K. Fairbank observed in 1972 on returning from a visit, “The Maoist revolution is on the whole the best thing that has happened to the Chinese people in centuries.”