Posts tagged ‘shock and awe’

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Mao Zedong’s 119th Birthday

In Shaoshan, countless people sang “The East is Red” together to mark Comrade Mao Zedong‘s 119th birthday, notes People’s Daily online. Another activity on December 25 was a fitness marathon, in reply to Mao’s call to “develop sports to strengthen the people’s physical shape”. Nearly ten-thousand people from provincial departments colleges and universities, and from all over the province (i. e. Hunan Province) reportedly participated.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Another lot of countless people probably didn’t care, unless they absolutely had to. And the article in question was written by a fairly productive (judging by search results) trainee, or an intern.  To her glory, the short article is carried by many mainstream websites, too.

How can a party that claims have been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture from the day of its establishment celebrate a barbarian mass killer?

There may be many reasons, but two seem to come to my mind. For one, they have to celebrate him. To admit that he had been a liability through most of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would call the party’s legitimacy into question. After all, they enabled him.

And secondly, because maybe, Mao isn’t that much of a liability when it comes to party rule. Under the Great Helmsman’s correct leadership, 70-percent-correct leadership or whatever kind of leadership, the Communists showed the people what they were capable of. No, I’m not thinking about literacy statistics here, but about shock and awe. When a younger generation became somewhat forgetful, only twelve or thirteen years after Mao’s death, they got another – comparatively small – reminder of what the CCP can do for them.

And many people inside and outside China keep saying that the Tian-An-Men massacre in 1989 was a “necessity”.

But these two reasons alone basically seem to guarantee that China can’t develop genuine “soft power”. There may be soft power over some of our elites in Europe, for example, especially when they are tired of the cumbersome business of democracy – especially elections.

But no “ordinary people” in their right minds can subscribe to concepts like those.



» Convivial Diplomacy (2009), Febr 20, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011


Friday, November 11, 2011

When the Heavens won’t Respond: the World’s “most useless Husband”

Once in a while, when violent behavior, no matter of which kind, is criticized, I’ll disagree. Children shouldn’t be considered tin-pot if they engage in a brawl once in a while, for example. But most parents and schools teach children in ways which suggest that violence is an absolute “no”. In certain circles here in Germany, you’d rather be supposed to crap on your boss’ desk, than join a fight – even if you didn’t start it yourself.

There are more gruesome things than having a fight, of course. Stuff like this: a wife gets beaten and raped, and her husband does nothing about it.

That – reportedly – is the story of Wang Juan (王娟, pseudonym), a 29-year old woman from Bao’an District in Shenzhen, and her husband Yang Wu (杨武, also a pseudonym).

ChinaSmack has a collection of Wang’s Yang Wu’s self-criticisms. Self-criticism is the only way to deflect formal or informal anger to some extent – it is hard to tell how much of it reflects genuine feelings, and how much of it is part of the ritual.

Everyone seems to be an expert on cowardice these days (if the media are something to go by) – the asked or unasked question seems to be “what kind of people we are”, especially when the talk is about what Wang Yang Wu wanted to do to the rapist (to get a knife and hack him to death), and what he didn’t dare to do, because he was too afraid.

His wife had been beaten up by the same man before, according to Nanfang Daily, by a man who was – reportedly – a member of the Public Order Joint-Defense forces (治安联防队) named Yang Xili (杨喜利, I’m not sure if this is a pseudonym, too), and when Yang added rape to the abuse, on October 23, he had brought two accomplices with him, according to an interview Nanfang Daily did with Wang Yang Wu. All that is still under investigation, and it is rarely pointed out that Yang Xili, too, is a suspect so far, but not a convict. A blogger who did point that out also referred to Yang Wu and Yang Xili as classmates, and the bullying history is said to date back to their schooldays.

During previous attacks, Wang Yang Wu had never resisted Yang’s Yang Xili’s attacks either. On October 23, when his wife was raped, he was hiding a few meters away from the scene of the crime. He – also reportedly – called the police an hour after Yang [Xili] and his accomplices had left.

Yang Xili, the alleged perpetrator, had claimed that he was closely connected to the police, Wang Yang Wu told Nanfang Daily, and he believed what Yang [Xili] said. Resistance seemed to make no sense. Besides,

My personality is also to resign myself to abuse, always afraid of trouble ever since I was small, putting up with everything.

From what I’ve heard experts (psychologists etc.) say, this isn’t necessarily exceptional. To different degrees, human beings may be shell-shocked, or frozen with fear, and unable to act in defense of themselves or someone else when the need arises. They seem to become absolutely passive, probably as if they were cats, taken by the skin of their neck.

I don’t think that any man would want to face this kind of test. A small man may rise above himself, and a big man may shrink below his usual strength in extreme moments. Whoever tells me that he knows for sure that he’d be a better man in this kind of situation looks unreliable to me, because he simply can’t know. But maybe this worrying uncertainty is exactly why there seems to be no mercy for Wang Yang Wu. The media print big pictures of his face, with tears running from his eyes, and snot streaming from his nose. Not even China National Radio (CNR), a state broadcaster, could bring itself to do without this kind of footage.

Yet CNR tries to explain the case. The Yang Wu case is typical (杨武事件具有典型性), their topical webpage explains:

What Yang Wu’s family encountered is the tragedy of many nobodies at the bottom of our society. They are powerless, and on an occurence will frequently cry out to heaven – but the heavens won’t respond, and the earth will be impervious. Facing outrageous  people who are holding power and bully them, they can only submit to the humiliation. There is nothing untypical about this.


Plus, the case reflects the terrible deterioration of the social and legal environment (案件反应了社会法治环境的恶劣).

But even if some of the analysis is surprisingly candid, and throws much of the blame piled on the victims right back onto their neighborhood, lines about particular (or exceptional) areas where “violence management” had become an important tool for the solution to management problems (在个别地方,“管理暴力”已经成为解决一些管理难点的重要手段) seems to hail right from the recently emerged CCP concept of “social management”, which may apply to channeling public feelings when it comes to conflicts between locals and migrant workers, obstinate independent candidates who try to run for local people’s congresses, or to Granny Ji when she is in need of affordable housing, close to the city center.

A state broadcaster simply needs to depend on some advice that speaks with authority.

And if the story needs to end with lines like these –

But a healthy society’s value lies in its ability to provide comprehensive protection to its citizens

– something must be wrong with it. In every society, there will be situations where state protection isn’t available, even if its absence may only last for a short time. To train the vulnerable to take a metal pipe and to beat a perpetrator up by themselves (and to train their neighbors to join an honest neighbor once the perpetrator comes back with reinforcements) should be part of the security package, too.

That’s particularly true for a country like China. Belief in state power to protect the vulnerable there is a pipe dream. But if it’s a pipe dream there, proscription of every  kind of violence in Germany is a miscalulation. Sometimes, violence can be very healthy.



» A Shame, but not on Them, Chai Jing / ESWN, November 10, 2011
» My fearful Country, March 19, 2011
» Facing Mount Kenya (aka The Gentlemen of the Jungle), Yomo Kenyatta, 1938


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Trip to Beijing: There and Back Again

There are rules.

There are rules.

Beijing is the place every good Chinese citizen longs for. Every good patriot (and that would be more than one billion people outside the capital), wants to stand at on Tian An Men Square, at least once in his or her life, and attend the flag-raising ceremony.

But there’s more to Beijing. With luck, a traveller may be in for an impressive demonstration of what’s going on behind the scenes.

The BBC:

A Chinese tourist was badly beaten up after being mistaken for a petitioner who wanted to lobby the authorities in Beijing, state media report.

Zhao Zhipei and three others were dragged from a hotel and bundled into a van before being dumped in their home province of Henan.

Mr Zhao was later found unconscious on a road in Luoyang city [that was back in Henan Province]. The case caused anger on China’s social media sites.

Six local officials have been punished for the beating, state media said.

According to Hangzhou Web (杭州网), five others were beaten up along with Zhao Zhipei (赵志斐), by unidentified persons (不明身份人士), who reportedly were a security company’s employees.

Police in Luoyang told Beijing News that “perhaps the wrong person was caught”.

MyLaowai, aka The Mother Teresa of the Blogosphere, would hardly agree. After (reportedly) being unfair to some fellow travellers on a plane, he defended his conduct this way:

Well, you’d be right. But this is the Chinese Way. It’s the basis upon which their entire society is structured. I merely played their own game, though of course, as a Laowai, I played it better than they did.

Hopefully, Zhao made it to the flag-raising ceremony on Tian-An-Men Square before re-epiphinating in his home province. His trip reportedly ended on the second day of his stay in Beijing, before the crack of dawn.



» Gang then, Dynasty now, May 12, 2010
» One of BeiDa’s Humorous Professors, April 11, 2009


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date for Your Diary: China Liberation Day, August 29, 1842

John Platt: "The signing and sealing of the Treaty of Nanking", Wikimedia Commons

John Platt: "The signing and sealing of the Treaty of Nanking", Wikimedia Commons

Now that the festive days of Peaceful-Tibet-Liberation commemorations are slowly drawing to a close, let’s get prepared for August 29. On that day in 1842, a number of ancestors of whoever is going to read this dealt feudalism in China a lasting blow.

It was a day in history when the world gasped in admiration. Let us never forget that without Europe, there would be no new China – 没有欧洲就没有新中国.

This is the irrefutable truth, and a proud day to remember for all benign and progressive forces, in China and abroad.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nuking North Korea: from Tennessee with Love

I’m not sure what to make of the smoldering war in Korea yet, but nuclear broadsides against North Korea right away if they start anything looks somewhat hasty to me. Actually, they’ve started something already, and if Glenn Reynolds (this dignified professor from Tennessee, I believe) wants to nuke them for that, it’s now time for him to produce his little black suitcase.

Lionel Beehner and Nuno Monteiro on the other hand – academics, too – would rather sleep on it for another night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Future Horrors: Trapped in a Chinese Labor Camp

Be very afraid, suggests this 2030 prophecy, courtesy to the cultural unit of Citizens against Government Waste (CAGW).

“Of course we own most of their debt”, a professor (an updated Fu-Manchu, suggests Frog in a Well) tells a rejoicing Chinese audience, explaining why the American empire perished, as did Greece, Rome, or the British Empire, and adds a pitiful and contemptuous bit of laughter: “Ha, ha, ha, so now they work for us.”

Grandma is going to crap her pants when the sealed fate of her grandchildren dawns on her. Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.

Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.

Only Sarah Palin can save the American Empire.


A Sordid and Twisted Connection, Granite Studio, October 27, 2010
Barack Obama, a Choice out of Fear and Hope, November 5, 2008
Citizens against Government Waste, Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taiwan’s ICAC a “Tool to eliminate Opponents”

When Jerome Cohen, an American professor of law and Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou‘s (馬英九) former mentor at Harvard Law School, visited Taiwan less than a year ago, Ma told him that he would “like to leave a legacy of building a country based on the rule of law”. Is the president moving closer toward this goal?

Ma-ster of Disaster

Revolutionary Opera

On a press conference on Tuesday, he announced that a new agency exclusively responsible for fighting government corruption would be established under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Chinese media quote Ma as saying that

Taiwan is a country under civil law, different from Hong Kong and Singapore (with common law). Therefore, Taiwan’s ‘independent commission’ won’t copy Hong Kong or Singapore. It will take its own approach, to make sure that it won’t disrupt the framework of existing investigation bodies’. Creating the independent commission against corruption is no repetition. Rather, it can, with other units in charge, develop a ‘cross-fire effect’. Creating the commission will enhance anti-corruption’s best-practise capabilities, and, unlike the Government Ethics Division, will be no ‘toothless tiger’ without the powers to investigate.
台湾是大陆法系,与香港、新加坡不同(普通法系),所以台湾的“廉政署”不会抄袭香港与新加坡,要有自己的做法,以避免把检察官是侦查主体的体系打乱。设 “廉政署”肃贪不是叠床架屋,反能与其它办案单位发挥“交叉火网”的效果。设立“廉政署”可增强肃贪、防贪能量,不再如政风司只是没调查权的“无牙老虎”。

BBC reporter Lin Nansen (林楠森) writes that if the new commission will be able to achieve its goals remains an open question. It is going to be an agency under the ministry of justice, rather than an independent body like Hong Kong’s ICAC, and another criticism in Taiwan is that there is already a number of units with the task of fighting corruption, leading to duplication or overlapping of work.*)

The current oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (民进党, DPP) had plans to create a dedicated independent commission against corruption during its eight years in government from 2000 to 2008. President Ma’s KMT, then the opposition party, but with a majority in the Legislative Yuan, blocked such plans, writes Lin**). There are KMT legislators who hold views different from Ma (who is also the KMT’s chairman). Besides the likelihood of functional conflicts with the commission placed under the ministry of justice, interference from the government’s executive branch could hardly be avoided – and it could become a tool to eliminate political opponents (使其成为政治上铲除异己的工具). Mind you, the BBC quotes KMT legislators here.

It will be interesting to see just about how much of the new agency’s investigations will be left to chances.

If the new agency shall indeed have teeth, whom will they devour? And whom will they spare? In December 2008, the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had announced that it would investigate former president and KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on suspicion of money laundering. But apparently, the Ma government, not exactly in love with the country’s first democratically-elected (and independently-minded) former president, found that the SIP better limit its research to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the DPP. After respectful visits to Lee’s home by president Ma Ying-jeou and vice president Vincent Siew, there was no more talk about Lee’s records as president being investigated.

Maybe the elder statesman simply knew too much about his heirs at the KMT. Putting him on trial could have had unpredictable effects.


*) 迭床架屋 (dié chuánɡ jià wū) – to put one bed onto another, and to put one room onto the other, i. e. to repeat the wheel.
**) The China Post quotes DPP legislator Lin Yu-cheng as pointing out that KMT legislators, when in opposition, blocked government initiatives for the establishment of a specialized anti-corruption agency 173 times.

Related / Update
“Stale Wine in a New Bottle”, Taiwan News, July 22, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Before you accuse Gordon Brown…

… of hitting people, listen to the man himself.

That said, Apple Daily has evidence to the contrary.


Update/Related: British PM writes to Chinese PM, Febr 10, 2009


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