Posts tagged ‘superstition’

Friday, July 14, 2017

Liu Xiaobo, 1955 – 2017

It won’t be long before Liu Xiaobo‘s first post-mortem biography will be published. But it won’t have the last word. There will be further biographies, and each of them will be contested. That’s because of the man himself, and because of his country. He was a man with a conscience, and his country has been a totalitarian dictatorship for nearly seven decades – if you count the KMT’s martial law in, it’s been a dictatorship for much longer than that.

Liu Xiaobo’s political lifespan lasted for three or four decades. That doesn’t count as long in China. The Communist Party’s propaganda works tirelessly to create and sustain the “People’s Republic’s” population’s imagination of a civilizational history of five or more millenia. And at the same time, the party needs to sustain the notion that the most recent seven decades had been the best in China’s history. Not only the past fourty, after the leadership’s decision to “reform and to open up”, but the past seven decades, including Maoism. CCP propaganda’s aim is to build an image of its rule where the pre- and post-1978 decades are one political unit, without substantial contradictions within.

In all likelihood, Liu Xiaobo had foreseen that trend. Many Chinese dissidents, no matter if opponents of China’s cultural restauration, or opponents of the KMT’s military dictatorship on Taiwan, saw a Chinese complacency at work, considering itself the center of the universe.

Cultural criticism is rarely a rewarding trade, but in China, it can be lethal, as shown in Liu Xiaobo’s case.

Liu’s last camp and prison term, which began in 2009 and ended with his relase on medical parole, with cancer in its final stage, had been based on the accusation that he had “incited subversion of state power”. But the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court’s verdict – passed on Christmas day of 2009, probably to keep the level of international attention as low as possible –  only reflected the CCP’s fear of Liu, not the likely divide between the dissident and his people. A likely divide only, because in a totalitarian dictatorship, these things are more uncertain than in an open society. Hu Jia, himself a dissident who spent more than three years in prison from 2007 to 2011, noted during Liu’s dying days that only about one out of a hundred Beijingers knew who Liu Xiaobo was. Michael Bristow, the BBC’s China correspondent  in 2011, made a similar observation back then.

The 1980s mostly came across as a period of economic optimism, but accompanied by phenomena that were viewed negatively – particularly corruption, which was one of the factors that propelled the June-4 movement at its beginning.

Liu’s answer to what was frequently seen as China’s ailments was “westernization”. Stays in Western countries seem to have intensified his idea, just as Deng Xiaoping is said to have had his own cultural shock when visiting Singapore, in 1978.

But there lies a difference between the great statesman, and the great dissident. Singapore, a highly developed city state led by a family clan, is a model not only for authoritarian Chinese nationals – Taiwanese law-and-order-minded people tend to prefer Singapore as a holiday destination, rather than “messy” Hong Kong.

Liu Xiaobo’s model of development was Hong Kong of the 1980s. It was also the crown colony that provided the intellectual in his early thirties with some public resonance. In one of the interviews, given by Liu to a magazine named Kaifang at the time, Liu made statements that astonished the interviewer:

Q. Under what circumstances can China carry out a genuine historical transformation?
A. Three hundred years of colonialism.  Hong Kong became like this after one hundred years of colonialism.  China is so much larger, so obviously it will take three hundred years of colonialism.  I am still doubtful whether three hundred years of colonialism will be enough to turn China into Hong Kong today.

Q. This is 100% “treason.”
A. I will cite one sentence from Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party: “Workers do not have motherlands.  You cannot take away what they don’t have.”  I care about neither patriotism nor treason.  If you say that I betray my country, I will go along!  I admit that I am an impious son who dug up his ancestors’ graves and I am proud of it.

Both the “insults” and Liu’s expressly stated pessimism probably made for a divide between him and many Chinese (as far as they got to know his story). Or, as Roland Soong, a blogger from Hong Kong, noted next to his translation of the 1988 interview, as of 2010, “I suggest that unless Charter 08 (or any other message) can connect with many people in other social strata, it will remain a mental exercise among ‘public intellectuals.'”

And nothing works in the modern middle kingdom, unless it comes with a festive up-with-people sound. (In that sense, China is globalizing indeed.)

When Soong translated the interview quoted from above, and added his assessment of the Charter 08, the global financial crisis had been wreaking havoc on Western economies for about two years, and at least one of the Charter’s demands had fallen from the tree since: #14 called for

Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

There wasn’t necessarily a conflict on this matter, between the party leadership and the authors of the Charter – time will show how the CCP is going to handle the remaining state sector of the economy. But among everyday Chinese people, this demand would hardly strike a chord. Besides, who can imagine a transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership “in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner”?

In the Charter’s preface, the authors wrote:

The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

It was a cautious description of the status quo: Liu and his co-authors understood that only a critical minority would side with them. And indeed, there was more to endure in the pipeline. The educational dictatorship China is now entering encourages anticipatory obedience rather than awareness, and it is likely to succeed. When you keep beating people up long enough – and provide them with a hopeful perspective for the future -, there is little that can help people of conscience to counter the propaganda.

This may be the main difference between Liu and his enemies (and many of his admirers, too): in the eyes of many, only hard power – no matter if you refer to it as “the people’s power” or as the “authorities” -, creates reality. If the realities are good, you don’t need to get involved. If they are evil, you can’t get involved. And when realities come in many shades of grey, you either needn’t or can’t get involved. The power of the powerless is no reality in these peoples’ world – unless they begin to tilt, so that re-orientation appears advisable.

That’s a stabilizing factor, so long as realities remain what they appear to be.  But appearances can be deceiving, often until the very last hour. Who of the Egyptians who ditched their longtime president in 2011, in colossal demonstrations, had known weeks before that he wanted to get rid of him? A mood had capsized. It wasn’t about awareness.

A manipulated and intimidated public tends to be unpredictable, and that can turn factors around that were originally meant to add to “stability”.

China’s leaders feared Liu Xiaobo. They feared him to the extent that they wouldn’t let him leave the country, as long as he could still speak a word. But in all likelihood, they fear China’s widespread, politically tinged, religious sects even more, which have a tradition at least as long as Chinese scholarship. Falun Gong is only one of its latest manifestations.

By suppressing public intellectuals not only before 1978, but after that, too, they provided space for nervous moodiness. The Communists themselves want to “guide” (i. e. control) public awareness, without leaving anything to chance.

But chance is inevitable. Totalitarian routine may be able to cope for some time, but is likely to fail in the long run, with disastrous consequences.

In that light, the CCP missed opportunities to reform and modernize the country. But then, the party’s totalitarian skeleton made sure that they could only see the risks, and no opportunities, in an opening society.

What remains from Charter 08 – for now – is the courage shown by its authors nine years ago, and by the citizens who affirmed it with their signatures.

Each of them paid a price, to varying degrees, and often, their families and loved ones did so, too: like Liu Xia, who had hoped that her husband would not get involved in drafting the Charter, but who would never dissociate herself from him.

Nobody is obligated to show the same degree of courage, unless solidarity or conscience prescribe it. In most cases, making such demands on oneself would be excessive. But those who hate the Lius for their courage – and for lacking this courage themselves – should understand that their hatred is wrong. One may keep still as a citizen – but there is an inevitable human duty to understand the difference between right and wrong. By denying our tolerance toward despotism and by repressing awareness of our own acquiescence, we deny ourselves even the small steps into the right direction, that could be taken without much trouble, or economic hardship.

May Liu Xiaobo never be forgotten – and may Liu Xia find comfort and recovery.

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Updates/Related

再生:致刘晓波, Woeser, July 13, 2017
Rebirth, Woeser/Boyden, July 16, 2017
Wiedergeburt, Woeser/Forster, July 27, 2017
The abuse hasn’t stopped, Wu Gan, July 25, 2017

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Daddy Xi, carrying forward China’s Splendid Traditional Culture

Original headline:

Hear Mister Personality Daddy Xi discuss Traditional Culture (听习大大谈传统文化).

The »article, first published by Guangming Daily online (光明网), is a collection of Xi Jinping quotes from 2013 to 2014.

Xinhua re-publication of a Guangming Daily online article

Click picture for source

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Related

» They just like him, BBC, Sept 23, 2015
» The CCP’s Cultural Design, Jan 6, 2012

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

China’s Friends and Enemies

China has neither as many friends nor as many enemies as CCP apologists would have it. Many of the friends are only friends as long as the economic statistics look great. And many of those called enemies by the CCP and its propaganda aren’t really enemies – they are a lame excuse, but efficient, when many Chinese and foreign people who feel that they depend on the party’s benevolence suffer from Stockholm syndrome.

Why do so many CCP apologists believe in big numbers of friends and enemies? Those with big egos may believe in these because it inflates their egos even further.

And those who feel uneasy about the CCP’s human rights abuses –  but do not want to face the inconvenient facts – need to silence their conscience.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Xinjiang 4-23 “Terrorist Attack”: Important Instructions from Beijing, Lack of Compassion from Washington

The incident in Bachu County / Selibuya (Kashgar Prefecture) on April 23 which reportedly led to the deaths of 21 people, including 15 police officers and officials, is closely monitored by the central party and state leadership, according to Chinese state media quoted by the BBC‘s Mandarin website on Friday. A Huanqiu Shibao report, also of Friday, is quoted as saying that the CCP central committee attached great importance to the incident and that secretary-general Xi Jinping had issued important instructions and requirements concerning the handling of the case, its aftermath, and the safeguarding of stability in Xinjiang. Six suspects reportedly died, and eight were arrested.

Foreign journalists were allowed to travel to the region but frequently faced intimidation and harassment when attempting to verify news of ethnic rioting or organised violence against government authorities, the BBC’s Beijing correspondent Celia Hatton wrote in a report published last Wednesday, and a report from the BBC’s China correspondent Damian Grammaticas, published on Friday, seems to confirm that local authorities tend to interfere, as Grammaticas and his team were ordered to leave Selibuya.

Tianshan Net, a website run by the propaganda department of the CCP’s Xinjiang branch, and frequently quoted by official and non-official Chinese media in the 4-23 context, reports today that in the wake of the 4-23 [April 23] serious violent terrorist incidents, a ceremony to honor the meritorious was held at the Science and Culture Square Conference Center in Kashgar at noon local time today. Three advanced collectives (including the Selibuya party committee) and 91 advanced individuals had been commended. (天山网喀什讯(记者李敏摄影报道)4月29日上午12:00,自治区处置“4.23”严重暴力恐怖案件有功人员表彰大会在喀什市科技文化广场喀什噶尔会议厅召开。大会对巴楚县色力布亚镇党委等3个先进集体和阿布拉江•克热木、谢武中等91名先进个人予以表彰。) The fifteen party and government comrades who had sacrificed their lives were posthumously awarded titles as outstanding party members and anti-terrorism warriors during the ceremony, writes Tianshan. (自治区党委、政府追授在处置“4.23”严重暴力恐怖案件中牺牲的15名同志为优秀共产党员、反恐勇士称号。) Nur Bekri and other leading regional officials attended the ceremony.

On Friday, Tianshan Net republished a Huanqiu Shibao report criticizing America for showing no compassion in the wake of the incident, quoting a U.S. state department spokesman’s demands for a transparent investigation. The criticism was based on Beijing’s foreign-ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying‘s statement on Thursday, who had stated dissatisfaction with Washington’s lack of compassion (无同情心).

Sina.com (in English) suggested a moral link between the recent Boston Marathon bombings and the incident in Xinjiang, and also quoted Hua Chunying from her Thursday press conference.

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Related

» Due process protections, BBC News, April 25, 2013

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Press and Blog Review: Perfectly Logical Chains

1. Li Ruihuan: Modest and Scrupulous about every Detail

Main Link: “Just talking won’t do, we need to argue” – Li Ruihuan’s “Views and Statements” / 光讲事儿不行,得讲理儿” ——李瑞环的“看法”与“说法”

Li Ruihuan

In spring 2013, permanent member of the 14th and 15th politburo standing committee and former Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Li Ruihuan has published his fourth book (four volumes) after retirement, “Views and Statements”, writes an intern at Nanfang Weekly who reviews the book. Renmin University (People’s University) president Chen Yulu is quoted as referring to it as authentic history and an encyclopedia of party and government work. The reviewer at Nanfang finds a perfectly logical chain in the opus, which begins with reform and opening up, and carries on with party construction (or building the party), the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, ethnic religion, propaganda and art, ideological and political work, urban construction, etc. Li had been scrupulous about every detail, he had issued 108 issues to deal with, and all had gone through the editorial team’s discussion. Obviously, the book also contains speeches.

Li Ruihuan’s approach had been democratic, Renmin University Publishing chief editor He Yaomin is quoted as saying – Li Ruihuan liked to let the editors discuss, looking on and listening. “He also spoke his views, but in case that he didn’t convince us, he’d let us return home and think things over again.”

Given the encyclopedic nature of the work, party secretary at the Central Institute of Socialism, Ye Xiaowen, was also part of the team of editors. Not missing are remarks about Li’s modest lifestyle, and his awareness of the importance of self-criticism, so as to be aware of problems early on.

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2. Village Teacher: It’s Now or Never

Village Teacher

Main Link: One Explosion after another, and Obama still hasn’t pissed off? / 美国爆炸连连,奥巴马还不滚蛋吗?

A “Farmer Teacher from the Village” (农村老师) also made a statement this week, with a focus on international politics. Chances are that there was no editorial team around to assist him:

These are some of America’s most unlucky days, and this American president is good for nothing. Not only is he black, intelligent and self-confident, but also unable, and all he can do is to show off his eloquence. […] This decade hasn’t been good for America in military, diplomatic and political terms, and the main reason is the election of a black president. Facts have shown that a black sheep cannot get along well with a bunch of bold lions. One could say that America has gradually become the most unsafe country, with one explosion after another, making Americans question Obama’s ability to govern. Indeed, as the Korean peninsula shows, Obama is one of the most incompetent presidents in American history, which is America’s nightmare, but China’s good luck. From the American president’s incompetence, greater benefits can be drawn, and China needs to do this. It needs to dispatch troops to fishing islands [this apparently refers to the Senkaku Islands in the first place], to make sense [of the fact that] American president Obama just relies on tricks. There is no need to fear this kind of president, but if this president is good for nothing, can we think of ourselves as stronger than him? We need no re-play of the Sino-Japanese War [of 1894/1895], I don’t want to see China sign another Shimonoseki Treaty in my lifetime, because that would be painful. Of course, big countries like China and America won’t simply go to war, but America’s decline is inevitable. They chose a useless president and gradually enter their own era of decline. If China doesn’t seize this opportunity to cripple America now, there will hardly be opportunities later. If in future, America becomes strong again, this won’t be good for China. I said early on that that black devil is useless, that his election is China’s opportunity, but there won’t be too many of such opportunities, [… – unable to translate this – JR.]
Therefore, with one explosion after another in America, why doesn’t Obama piss off? If he doesn’t piss off, the damage will only be America’s, and America will be more and more unluky, and China’s opportunities will get ever greater, but if the opportunity isn’t being seized, there will be a rude awakening.

Only one reader cared to comment so far, and offers some cooling analysis: A president can’t change America’s current situation in a moment.

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Related

» Make America collapse, Feb 14, 2010
» Stock Taking, Feb 8, 2013

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Germany’s Slow-Motion China Debate

When Mao Zedong died and Hua Guofeng succeeded him, there was much more China coverage on the German media than now – from what I can remember. I was ten years old at the time, but have never forgotten how the newsreaders pronounced the new helmsman’s name: Hu-ah Ku-oh Fang. The muscles in their faces were working hard during the two or three seconds it took to read his name out. The rather intense coverage probably lasted until 1979 at least.

China came back, bigtime, in Germany’s news coverage during 2008 (and, I’m sure, in 1989, too, but I hardly remember that time in the news). By that time, China was no longer a faraway country, with a few blurred television pictures “received in Hong Kong”, but more like news from an uncannily close neighbor.

Meantime, to use a cuisinary term, the clash with China – or the CCP – keeps simmering over low heat in the German press. On March 10 – twenty days ago -, a radio essay by Sabine Pamperrien, the source of many or most of the coverage on the Zhang Danhong affair at Germany’s foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle  in 2008, was aired by Deutschlandfunk, one of Germany’s two nationwide radio broadcasters. She criticized the views of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt on non-interference, arguing that in terms of international law, Schmidt’s opinion was a minority opinion, even if Schmidt argued as if his opinion was apodictic. Non-interference wasn’t codified, but derived from customary international law – just as human rights widely were. Pamperrien argues that the “international responsibility to protect (R2P) had been drafted, more than ten years ago, to define the concept of sovereignty within the UN Charter anew. This wasn’t codified either, but was becoming more and more customary:

Deshalb wurde vor über zehn Jahren mit dem Begriff der “internationalen Schutzverantwortung” eine Neudefinition des Souveränitätsbegriffs der Charta der Vereinten Nationen entworfen. Danach sind Menschenrechte nicht innere Angelegenheiten von Staaten, sondern supranationales Recht. Auch das ist nicht kodifiziert, setzt sich gewohnheitsrechtlich aber immer mehr durch.

It should not be forgotten, Pamperrien adds, that non-interference had been the central defense club (Abwehrkeule) of communist potentates during the Entspannungspolitik (détente), whenever dissidents in their countries – or expelled by their governments – became a topic.

Coincidentally or not, Wolf Biermann, a former East German citizen, expelled by the East German government in 1976, wrote an open letter to Liao Yiwu (published on March 27). Biermann expressed anger about Helmut Schmidt (in his capacity as the co-editor of German weekly Die Zeit, which had been speading stinking news lately. Stinking news, that is, about Liao Yiwu.

For sure, German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin had alluded to the topic of Liao Yiwu, and to a chance that Liao’s descriptions might require verification. Friends who had visited Liao in prison had told him (Kubin) that the conditions of Liao’s imprisonment hadn’t been as harsh as he [later] described them, that much what he couldn’t publish here  [in China, apparently] wasn’t documentation, but fiction, and that the case deserved closer investigation (“Der Fall lohnte einer genaueren Untersuchung”).

But that was in October 2012, and Biermann doesn’t state explicitly which comments about Liao Yiwu in Die Zeit caused his anger – Kubin’s, or anyone else’s. In another article, nine days ago, Die Zeit stated that Kubin hadn’t been able to prove his accusation against Liao.

I wrote an article on Biermann’s and Pamperrien’s criticism on “my” German blog – on a platform provided by German weekly Der Freitag – on Wednesday, with a reference to the Zhang Danhong affair and the events that unfolded at Deutsche Welle, It dawned on me that I hadn’t asked myself too many questions about all those events for a long time, and that I hadn’t asked any stakeholders questions for a long time. The thread that followed my post on my German blog was actually instructive – it has given me several ideas on how to do some more research. That may require time, once again, and will inevitably reduce my blogging frequency further – at least for a while.

The funny bit about that is that I’m under no time pressure. No big newsagency, no big paper, no broadcaster is likely to pick up the Deutsche-Welle issues any time soon. But as time passes, more and more information is trickling down – not least from Li Qi‘s Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare. The book remained available – as far as I can see, no judicial steps have been taken against the publishing house, and apparently, no counterstatements have been made.

The anti-CCP mill, too, is grinding its way rather slowly. Biermann’s reaction to the coverage of Die Zeit seems to suggest that, and so does Pamperrien’s: Helmut Schmidt had made his remarks about non-interference and other issues more than one years earlier, on January 31, 2012.

Back then, Tai De took issue with Schmidt’s remarks about the Korean War.

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Related

» Deutsche Welle Link Collection, Febr 3, 2012
» Xu Pei and the Dirty Old Men, May 17, 2010

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

After Suicide: Guangzhou Government Defends Qi Xiaolin’s Name

« Previous coverage (January 9)

Main Link: secretary of the political and law committee: no Violations of Discipline found (穗政法委书记:未发现祁晓林违法纪)

Links within blockquote added during translation.

Yangcheng Evening Post, reporter Wang Pu. On January 9 at noon, Guangzhou Municipal PSB office’s website “Guangzhou Golden Shield” (广州金盾网) stated: deputy municipal PSB director Qi Xiaolin hanged himself to death.

羊城晚报讯 记者王普报道:1月9日中午,广州市公安局官网“广州金盾网”发布消息:广州市公安局副局长祁晓林自缢身亡。

The notice said: on January 8, 2013, Guangzhou Municipal PSB deputy director Qi Xiaolin hanged himself and died, aged 55. Comrade Qi Xiaolin suffered from depression at his lifetime. Yangcheng Evening Post learned that Qi hanged himself in his office’s rest room inside the Guangzhou PSB building.

消息称:“2013年1月8日18时许,广州市公安局党委副书记、副局长祁晓林自缢身亡,终年55岁。祁晓林同志生前身患疾病,有抑郁症状。”羊城晚报记者了解到,祁晓林是在广州公安局大楼内自己办公室内的洗手间自缢的。

“Qi Xiaolin indeed suffered from depression, but there had been no indication that he would hang himself”, a PSB officer told this reporter. On Tuesday afternoon, there had been a democratic cadre appraisal of mid-level cadres, and these cadres had all voted there in the [PSB building’s] auditorium. “At that time, Qi Xiaolin and other leading cadres attended on the rostrum, and while they were checking the votes, he returned to his office. As the counting process took quite a while, nobody noticed that Qi hadn’t returned, or wondered why he didn’t come back.” It is said that Qi’s secretary wanted to ask him back to the meeting and found that he had hanged himself to death. He left no suicide note. Legal medical examinations and procurial organs found no doubts about the cause of death.

“祁晓林的确是有患病,但突然自缢却一点征兆也没有。”一位公安人员告诉记者,1月8日下午,广州市公安局中层干部集体民主评选干部,处以上干部都到公安 局礼堂内投票。“当时,祁晓林副局长与其他局领导在主席台上,验票时他回到了自己办公室。由于验票时间较长,没有人再留意到祁晓林最后没有到场,或者是为 什么没有到场”。据称,验票结束后祁晓林的秘书通知其回到会议上,进入办公室后,才发现祁晓林已自缢身亡。他生前没有留下遗书。经法医、检察机关勘查证 实,死亡原因无疑点。

Qi Xiaolin entered rural ranks after junior high school graduation, then entered police school, initially at Guangzhou Huangpu District PSB branch office, and rose from an ordinary policeman to become the branch office’s deputy political commissar and director, then switched to Fangcun PSB branch office to become its director, and then became Guangzhou Municipal PSB deputy party secretary and deputy director in 2003, ranking third in its hierarchy.

祁晓林1973年初中毕业后到农村插队,之后考入警校,最早在广州市黄埔区公安分局工作,由普通警员升任分局副政委、分局局长,2000年交流至芳村公安分局任局长,2003年升任广州市公安局党委副书记、副局长,在广州市公安局领导中排名第三位。

A senior people’s policeman told this reporter that “Qi Xiaolin was good at investigating criminal cases. During his time at Huangpu and Fangcun Districts, he solved important cases. After becoming deputy PSB director, he was mainly in charge of the traffic police, PSB internal security, the subway and liason with Tianhe District PSB branch office. The last public event he attended was on December 18, 2012, at the “National key internet media Guangdong line – Guangzhou scientific development implementation informative meeting”.

一位资深民警告诉羊城晚报记者:“祁晓林是侦办刑事案件的一把好手,他在黄埔区、芳村区时都曾破获大要案件。”祁晓林任广州市公安局副局长后,分管部门为 交警、内保、保卫、地铁,联系天河区公安分局。祁晓林最后一次出席公开活动是2012年12月18日在“全国重点网络媒体广东行——广州落实科学发展观情 况介绍会”上介绍广州社会治安情况。

There had been beliefs that Qi, having been in charge of traffic police for so long, was linked to corruption cases in this administrative field, but a people’s policeman said: “That’s not too likely. If there was such a link, he wouldn’t have been left in charge of car traffic administration.”

因祁晓林分管交警多年,有人事后将其自杀与此前广州市车管所腐败窝案联系起来,一位民警认为:“不大可能,如果他与车管窝案有牵连,早就不会让其继续分管交警”。

An old classmate said: “Qi Xia0lin was introverted, not very talkative. He frequently felt pain on his neck, didn’t sleep well, and I’ve heard his family people say that they had learned about his depression”. A people’s policeman said: “Qi Xiaolin was responsible for security work for a long time. There was a lot of pressure.”

祁晓林的一位校友称:“祁晓林性格内向、不愿意将什么事情说出来,他颈椎部位经常有疼痛,一直睡眠不好,听他家人说已发现有抑郁症”。一位民警称:“祁副局长期分管保卫工作,责任、压力较大”。

Yangcheng Evening Post concludes the article with a statement from Wu Sha (吴沙), Guangzhou secretary of the political and law committee (see here for a “Global Times” news article in English). After his statement, Wu expressed his sympathy to Qi’s relatives.

The statement was apparently needed, not necessarily because of Qi Xiaolin as a person, but because of general suspicion against the PSB or public officials. Among those who have commented on Huanqiu Shibao on the story since yesterday, cynicism prevails. There are only six comments now – at least some more have been removed since. None of them is sympathetic, but eleven hours ago, “King Qin’s Warrior” had the last word so far with the only comment at a conflict of sorts with the others: Take severe measures against corruption, so that a prosperious people lives in the country at peace. Let the nation unite, and defend itself against foreign enemies.

According to Yangcheng Evening Post, Qi Xiaolin was born in September 1957, and was a native of Haiyang, Shandong Province.

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Related

» Partytalk, May 19, 2012
» Satisfaction of the People, Aug 16, 2009

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is China Misunderstood? And if Yes, How?

  • “People in China have as many freedoms as people in Europe, as long as they don’t organize to challenge CCP rule.”

Not really. Frequently, challenging one bureaucrat amounts to challenging the party. What you can and what you can’t do depends on your connections, and even if you are pretty well connected, no independent court will protect you and the liberties you have taken to do things when the party decides that it has a stake in your case.

  • “The Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty.”

That’s conventional wisdom. But isn’t it the party’s decision to leave more space for  privately-owned business – i. e.  a withdrawal from business administration – which has led to that success?

  • “Authors like Mo Yan show that you are quite free to criticize leadership decisions – even if you are formally part of the system.”

Mo Yan spoke up for Liu Xiaobo (with some disclaimers included in his talk), and that was a good decision – but if he wasn’t part of the system, and right in the limelight, such a public statement might have earned him an invitation for a cup of tea at the next public security office – or worse.

What is true is that China is much more of a mixed economy these days, than thirty years ago. What may also be true is that the cadres, too, have become much more affluent. Some leaders, especially top leaders, have become rich.

And this seems to amount to a strange excuse, frequently offered by CCP apologists: because the Communist leaders – and top leaders not least – are so corrupted, their theories can’t be taken seriously anymore. Or rather: even as a democrat, you don’t need to take their theories seriously anymore.

That’s a nice license to do business with the guys. Unfortunately, it’s a faked license.

It is true that what the CCP cadres do has little to do with their original theories. But that only means that their concept of class relations has changed. Contrary to what coverage frequently suggest,  that’s no bashful change. It’s clearly documented, not least in Jiang Zemin‘s Three Represents which are part of the official party theories. All this hasn’t hasn’t changed the CCP’s view of who should rule the country, and how they want to rule.

The CCP claims the function to decide what Chinese culture is, and what isn’t. They are the “standard bearers” and the “developers” of Chinese culture. They have left cultural organizations and individuals more leeway than during the Maoist days, just as they have left businesses more leeway – see above. But all that is revocable. It is part of the party’s development project. Obviously, people make use of the leeway they have – but given that the party has the last word on what will make it, and what won’t, its claim to be the developer is often taken remarkably lightly.

Above all, however, there is one constant: that while the outside world has certain good things to offer, it is, above all, a threat. The concept that an imagined innocence, “cultural” purity, or general well-being of the Chinese people can only be safeguarded by the CCP’s monopoly to power has never changed since the party came to power. A country that swallows the humiliations that come from this power monopoly and ultimately has to blame the outside world for exactly these humiliations can’t be a terribly friendly country.

The Libyan or the Syrian regimes have never been popular among Americans or Europeans. The Chinese regime isn’t, either. There is a lot of fault-seeking going on. Every incident, every blooper, and every corruption case among more senior officials are highlighted in the Western press, as if corruption was something particularly Chinese, or even something particularly CCP. But that seems to be arrogance, and wannabe virtue, rather than objectivity. Just as there was a preparedness to believe that basically, Libyans or Syrians were prepared to tolerate, if not support, their leaders, there is a preparedness to believe the same thing of China and the CCP.

When taking a benevolent view of Western governments and the Western public perception, they were also prepared to believe that at least the Syrian regime would give way to democracy (or theocracy) peacefully, rather than clinging to power by all means. If we may believe Western governments’ statements these days, they are absolutely shocked that, once having shown signs of vulnerability, such regimes aren’t tolerated by their own people anymore. By the same logic, Western governments are even more shocked to learn that such regimes would go “from house to house” to find and slaughter oppositionals, suspected or proven. By the same logic, Western governments and the Western public are outraged to learn that a regime may actually bomb its own cities, at war with many of its own people.

They would quite probably be just as “shocked” if such events occured in China. And then they would start explaining why they did have reasons to believe that the CCP regime was “responsible” and “accountable” to the people, why they did have reasons to believe that the party would put the people first, and put itself next.

And as long as shit doesn’t happen, they’ll tell you how the status quo in China is still better than any conceivable alternative. (That said, many foreign party apologists aren’t that much more interested in trying to imagining alternatives, than the CCP itself.)

People who are using excuses like the ones quoted at the beginning are most probably those who actually “misunderstand” China most fundamentally. But it’s a wishful misunderstanding. A less friendly word for it would be complicity.

That complicity is no crime. Or, if it is, this blogger, too, is complicit. I accept that our governments and businesses need to find compromises with totalitarian dictators, at least for the time being.  What I don’t accept is the beautification of the regime. Whoever justifies its existence needs to be prepared to accept the same standards in his home country – not necessarily as a ruler, but as a subject to such rule. (One problem among Western decision makers is that they themselves can only think of themselves as rulers, not as subjects.) But if you argue that, because of the “circumstances”, this or that has to be good enough for Chinese citizens, this or that has to be good enough for you, too – provided that the “circumstances” (seem to) demand it.

To be clear: this is no suggestion that Western intelligence services should sponsor underground organizations in China. It is a suggestion that people should stop thinking of China as some kind of “democracy”, or a “democratizing country”, only because it makes it easier for us to justify our business with China. The issue isn’t how Westerners could “westernize”, “democratize” or whatever-ize China. It is to make sure that our own values don’t become blurred in the process of interaction.

A paranoid scenario? Up to you. But take a look at the debate between U.S. president Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Not a single mention of China’s political system. Rather: long debates on how to “shape” the Middle East.

And all that – my take of it, that is – to flatter power delusions among the American public.

That’s where the circle closes. Power isn’t irrelevant. But without a conscience – an understanding of what we are doing -, it may be wielded in a pretty CCP way: self-flattering, self-serving, and oblivious.

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Related

» Enabling “Democracy in International Relations”, The Peking Duck (guest post), Oct 2, 2012
» Asma Al Assad, the All-Natural Beauty, The Richest People, Febr 23, 2011
» Huang Mengfu: It’s Complicated, Jan 7, 2009

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