The Daily Dose of Pain: On Vous l’avait Bien Dit

Someone has just read JR‘s latest entry and asked him why he is doing this to himself. The person who asked has a point. I usually enjoy translating, and I admitted that I’m not enjoying it in this case. Besides, while I’m doing this to myself, I see other  interesting articles in Chinese floating by without recovering them.

I haven’t found a full translation or account of the 17th central committee’s cultural reform decision elsewhere on the internet yet, and just as in my first translation installment, I might abstract a number of the original’s paragraphs again when doing part four, and all those following bits, provided that I’m leaving nothing important out.

But  I’m not wasting my time either way.

After all, I’m curious. If even the CCP website, which is usually very proud of all the party’s hard ideological work, doesn’t bother to publish an English version, I’ll need to read the Chinese original. That takes time anyway, so I might as well translate it.

But above all, I believe that this document will have a noticeable effect on China’s future. Many foreigners*), even with a strong interest in China, won’t take note of the “cultural reform” document – they probably won’t take note of party congresses either.

Unless, that is, a party congress seems to prove their point that “they” – the Chinese – become “more like us”. When Deng Xiaoping started advocating “reform and opening”, and when the party adopted economic reform policies known as the Four Modernizations, foreign observers were all ears. When Gustav Amann note in the 1920s that the foreigners saw nothing but what they could attribute to their own influence on the Manchu government, he had made an observation that wasn’t really spectacular, but one which described a lasting pattern of foreign, or certainly European, perception of China. Just as it was back then, most published foreign observation seems to be based on conceit, or wishful thinking. China may be modernizing, but if it is up to the CCP – there is little reason to believe that it will be up to any Dangwais (within or without the United Front) -, there will be no individual human rights.

This has an effect on competition between China’s and Western political systems, too. The CCP’s emphasis on social efficiency points into that direction – there will be no individual human rights on the one hand, but a lot of – possibly very successful – harnessing of “the people’s productive power” on the other.

That won’t mean a lot in terms of “culture”. The CCP might as well scrap everything in its CCP plenary session document which relates to “soft power” – the CCP’s soft power is as attractive as athlete’s foot. But in terms of economic planning, social efficiency can mean a lot.  Advanced democratic societies should take note. It doesn’t take “soft power” to be influential – hard power and a long-term strategy can do the job for the CCP, too.

There is some awareness in Europe that Chinese help in solving the euro zone debt crisis may not come without “strings attached”. But when Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former French prime minister, suggests that

we cannot go it alone. China has taken over the baton and become banker to the world. That’s the new deal of the 21st century,

it seems to suggest that even the political strings don’t matter to European politicians.

European relations with Taiwan – it’s a rather shabby protocol already – may suffer further. Speaking out on human rights, and be it only for some self-respect? Umm…

Maybe European politicians haven’t taken note of the political side – and quite possibly, their “rescue plan” is built on wishful thinking anyway.

One can only hope that Raffarin is one of the worst examples – but given the matter of course in which European leaders are trying to raise Chinese funding, I’m not exactly sure about that. Anyway:

China has left the dictatorial road,

Raffarin announced in 2008. Sure?

Absolutely! Because, in 2008, too, China was

the world’s banker. The Chinese are financing the American deficit. China has left the road of dictatorship (La Chine est le banquier du monde. Les Chinois financent le déficit américain. La Chine a quitté la route de la dictature).

So, in a way, JR‘s spiteful side is at work here. In the future, you can’t say that he hadn’t warned you.

But I’m not enjoying it. It’s my Europe, too.


*) I’m restricting my speculation / observations to foreign, rather than Chinese observers here. The latter may be objects of speculation /observations on another day, or in the commenter thread.



» Trying to Translate, November 7, 2008


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