Tag Archives: Democracy

The Wukan Elections on Social Media

Just in case you’re out of the loop: villagers in Wukan hit the polls today. Although there are elections in villages all over China, this one is especially significant given what led up to it and the extent to which it has got people elsewhere in China thinking about democracy.

For on the ground information, you should look to Tom Lasseter and Louisa Lim, who are actually in Wukan and have been tweeting updates and photos all day. As I’m not in Wukan, I thought I’d take a look at what’s on Weibo instead. (Sure it’s lazy and overdone, but Weibo will probably be dead soon, so I’ve got to strike while the iron is still hot).

With regards to censorship, searches for the “Wukan” are no longer blocked, but it does appear that Sina is at least downplaying the interest in the elections by keeping it off of the trending topics list. As of Saturday evening at around 8:00, Wukan posts were coming in at a rate of several (1-3 on average) per minute, significantly faster than some of the topics that were trending at the same time (average of less than 1 new post per minute). Now, this wasn’t exactly a scientific study or anything, but it does appear that from a posts-per-minute perspective, the Wukan elections should appear on the national trending topics list. That it doesn’t may be a result of the fact that the list is handpicked, not automatic.

But, like I said, searches for “Wukan” are still allowed and posts about the elections don’t seem to be getting deleted. The Chinese media is also covering and discussing the elections, so it’s clearly getting more play than it was back when the town was a rebel village under siege (no surprise there).

As you might expect, the Weibo messages from Wukan residents themselves today are mostly about the election, and from the accounts I’ve looked out there seems to be more-or-less universal satisfaction and pride. They’re sharing stories about old people voting for the first time and kindhearted volunteers helping keep the voting area clean. They’ve also been passing around this comparison photo made by a Beijing netizen that compares the scene today in Beijing (left), Wukan (center), and Hong Kong (right):

(The idea here is that the dog-and-pony-show “two meetings” in Beijing doesn’t compare favorably to the democracy in Wukan or the free criticism of political leaders in Hong Kong.)

Many others outside Wukan are also comparing the elections there to the CPPCC/NPC meetings in Beijing. In one popular post from earlier tonight, a netizen wrote, that the consciousness of the Chinese people is “reduced” by the CPPCC/NPC meetings but is “awakened” by the elections in Wukan.

Among intellectuals, there’s also the expected discussion and qualifying of this “victory” for Wukan’s system, as expressed (among other places) in this comment by a fairly popular independent scholar:

I’ve never been opposed to one-person-one-vote, what I’m opposed to is the worship of one-person-one-vote. It’s just the most shallow layer of democracy. If that’s all you have, and you don’t have any of the deeper layers that separate and restrict the powers [of government institutions] then there’s no way to prevent autocracy.

Most people seem to be happy for and/or jealous of Wukan, and many also see it as a sign of impending reforms or, for some, more sweeping changes:

Wukan is the beginning of Chinese democracy, a single spark can ignite a prairie fire.

We’ll see. As of now, I don’t believe they’re even finished counting the votes. But how things will look in a year is even less clear. Still, it’s hard not to feel good about what’s happening there right now, for me personally and, it appears, for an awful lot of Sina Weibo users, too.

Han Han and the “Suzhi” Argument

You may have missed it with the holidays, but Han Han celebrated with a trio of essays (“On Revolution”, “On Democracy”, and “On Freedom”) that got lots of people talking. Certainly, you should check out ESWN’s translations of all three essays; John Kennedy’s translations of various comments from Chinese thought leaders for Global Voices is also very worth a read. Finally, if you’re the podcast-listening sort, you can listen to me discussing these essays with Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn, Gady Epstein, and Edward Wong in the latest episode of the Sinica podcast.

Here, I want to ignore most of Han Han’s essay and focus on the germ of one particular argument that he uses which I find to be particularly unconvincing. But first, the obligatory disclaimers: I agree with Han Han in his general assertion that a violent revolution tomorrow would be a disaster for China. His arguments beyond that are harder for me to get on board with, but I want to discuss only one here and now, the suzhi [素质] argument.

Suzhi is a Chinese term that means roughly “quality” or “character” and often refers to people in specific or the characteristics of a type of person in general. In the context of discussions of democracy in China, the “suzhi argument” is essentially this: the Chinese people as a whole are not qualified for democracy; their suzhi level is not high enough, and thus any attempts at democracy would be unsuccessful.

All kinds of evidence has been trotted out in favor of this argument, which is espoused primarily by Chinese pro-government commentators. Most foreigners, even those who agree with the general sentiment about democracy in China, wouldn’t dream of advancing this argument for fear of being labeled racist. Such labels would not be entirely unfair, and in fact, even Chinese purveyors of this viewpoint have often met with a harsh blowback of angry public opinion. Jackie Chan learned this the hard way.

In any event, rather than talking about it in the abstract, let’s look at Han Han’s arguments about suzhi in particular. At the end of his first piece, “On Revolution”, Han Han writes:

Revolution and democracy are two terms. These two terms are completely different. A revolution gives no guarantee for democracy. We proved this already. History gave China an opportunity, and our current situation is the result of the choice of our forebears. Today, China is the least likely nation in the world to have a revolution. At the same time, China is the nation which needs reform the most in the world. If you insist on asking me about the best timing for revolution in China, I can only say that when Chinese car drivers know to turn off their high beam lights when they pass each other, we can safely proceed with the revolution.

Such a country does not need any revolution. When the civic quality [suzhi] and educational level of the citizens reach a certain standard, everything will happen naturally.

Later, in “On Democracy”, he writes:

The poorer the quality [suzhi] of the citizens, the lesser the importance of the intellectuals […] The quality [suzhi] of the citizens will not prevent democracy from arriving, but it can determine its [democracy’s] quality.

In “On Freedom”, the term suzhi does not appear at all.

It’s interesting that in his original essays, Han treats the “poor quality” of Chinese citizens as essentially a given, without offering a whole lot of evidence to back up that claim. Nor does he really support the assertion that a “poor quality” people make for a poor quality democracy.

Perhaps in response to challenges on this issue, after posting it, Han Han actually expanded on his second essay (“On Democracy”) in a paragraph that Soong didn’t translate, presumably because Han Han added it after Soong had already completed his translation and moved on ((that’s just a guess)). We can’t very well proceed without a translation of that section, though, so here you go:

Adding on an additional question, with regards to suzhi and democracy, people say to me: I’ve been to developed countries and beyond the appearance of suzhi on the surface, people’s natures are the same [as Chinese people’s], so only a good system can guarantee a high level of suzhi [for a country’s people].

I answer: I completely agree. But we’re talking about superficial suzhi. Don’t underestimate the importance of superficial suzhi just because the underlying nature of people is whatever it is. The quality of a democracy is determined by the superficial suzhi of its people. When someone turns off their high beams, it may appear that they’re courteous and respect social mores, but then in discussion with them [you may discover] they are weak, greedy, selfish, narrow-minded…so what about that? There’s no meaning in discussing suzhi and human nature together. Of course American and Chinese people have more or less the same essential natures, human nature is more or less the same the world over. So what we have here is a chicken-and-egg question: is it that first a nation’s people have a good suzhi and then comes the good system [of government], or does the system come first? There’s actually no doubt, at times when a good system can be made, it should be guaranteed to be made regardless of [the people’s] suzhi because a good [political] system is long-lasting, wide-spreading, and real, whereas suzhi is empty.

The problem is that during times when a good system can’t be created for whatever reasons, we can’t be waiting around for one to drop from the sky before we start working on anything else, otherwise even a good suzhi isn’t necessary [for democracy], it’s slow-moving and not necessarily effective. There are two ways that good systems and good democracy arise; one is where there is a day of commemoration ((i.e., democracy arrived swiftly and suddenly, likely after the overthrow of the previous system)) and the other is where there’s no specific day but it comes from the hard work of generations. I think we need to be a bit realistic, the reason the US Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Amendments are as good as they are is that their political parties and people implemented them. Our [Chinese] Constitution is also good, and our ruling Party has declared some things that were as good as the Declaration of Independence, but most of them weren’t implemented. They [Chinese leaders] won’t look at these declarations and reflect on their shortcomings, the cost of revolution is too high and it’s too uncontrollable, reform is slow and [easy to] delay, it really seems like [we’re in] a tight knot. But I still choose to believe in reform. Violent or nonviolent revolution [as ideas] can only serve as a bargaining chip in supervising reform, it can’t actually be put into practice.

I think Han Han is right in distinguishing suzhi here from human nature because what we’re really talking about is civic/social consciousness and education. That said, I think Han Han — and other less eloquent purveyors of the suzhi argument — are completely wrong.

Since Han Han made the comparison with America’s democracy, and since I’m at least somewhat familiar with American history, let’s take a moment to do something I often try to avoid on this site: compare the US and China. Since we’re talking about the emergence of an operational democratic system, though, we’ll have to compare the China of today with the US of the 1700s.

Immediately, this raises a number of issues, and many of you are no doubt thinking of things like the three-fifths compromise and wondering why China would want that sort of democracy. It’s a fair point, but I’ll argue that slavery is actually an example of how low suzhi doesn’t prevent a real democracy from being implemented. And while admittedly that led to horrible abuses and finally a catastrophic civil war, the fact that the American system of government has lasted and remained firmly grounded ((Though less so in recent years)) by the principles laid out in its founding documents is, I think, evidence that a people’s low level of suzhi is not a disqualifier for a democracy, nor is it a particularly accurate indicator of how that democracy will turn out in the long run.

And it must be said that by nearly every measurable metric I can think of, Chinese people are light-years ahead of eighteenth-century Americans. For example:

  1. Education: It’s difficult to find reliable national statistics for the 1700s, but by all accounts, most Americans at that time weren’t attending much school. A 1773 survey of German immigrants to Pennsylvania, for example, found that only 33% of their children received any education in the two years prior. Education in New England was more widespread, but nowhere near current levels in terms of either implementation or quality. In contrast, according to China’s Ministry of Education, 99% of Chinese children attend primary school and 80% attend both primary and secondary school. Of course, there are significant concerns about the quality of that education, but I think very few people would choose an 18th century American education over a modern Chinese one, especially given that a large part (in many cases, all) of 18th century education in the US was religious education.
  2. Literacy: Literacy rates in colonial America were surprisingly high, apparently: between 70% and 100%, although those numbers come just from New England and the overall number would almost certainly be lower. China’s current literacy rate is about 92%, which, although not comparable to the 21st century US, certainly compares equally or even favorably with literacy rates in colonial and early independent America. Again, it’s also worth mentioning that most American education at the time was religious; people learned to read so that they could read the Bible, not to stay informed on current events.
  3. Social Conscience: This is admittedly an extremely subjective thing to try to assess, but it’s difficult for me to believe that any people could rate below colonial Americans, who by and large believed it was okay to enslave other people, even after it became clear that moral concerns aside, this issue was causing a tremendous rift that threatened to (and nearly did) completely destroy American society. Chinese drivers may leave their high beams on at night — though the fact that Han Han is so convinced this is a Chinese characteristic is only proof he hasn’t spent much time driving at night in America — but it’s hard to believe that betrays a level of social conscience lower than that of Americans who were, at the moment their democracy emerged, engaged in enslaving a race of people (not to mention stealing from and massacring another race of people).

Hindsight, of course, is 20-20, but I don’t think that many people in the 1700s would have been particularly optimistic about the nascent American democracy if they shared Han Han’s belief that its quality would be impacted by the suzhi of its people — a people that were by and large literate but poorly educated, preposterously religious, and dedicated to the belief that owning slaves was totally cool. Certainly, this picture of Americans at the turn of the 19th century makes the complaints most often levied against Chinese people’s suzhi — they spit in public, they can’t queue properly, they only care about watching TV — seem benign in comparison.

The history of other countries could likely provide counter-examples, but that’s not the point. I am not arguing that China could easily implement a democracy; rather, my point is just that the argument that China couldn’t implement democracy because its people still spit on the sidewalk or leave their high beams on at night is total horseshit.

That said, by way of epilogue, I’ll offer a few brief words on Han Han’s implication in his add-on paragraph that China is currently in a period when it’s not possible to implement democracy. He doesn’t really explain specifically why he believes that’s the case, but looking at American history again, there certainly would have been reasons to suggest the same thing about an independent America in the 1700s. The colonists, after all, wanted to challenge the most powerful military and economic power on earth. They ended up succeeding for reasons that might seem obvious in retrospect, but my guess is that many outside observers before the revolution began might have suggested that democracy was “impossible” for America at a time when England was so powerful militarily, especially since the economic losses they stood to suffer if they lost the colonies made it more or less a given that they would resist any efforts at independence quite…robustly.

I’m well aware that there are plenty of issues with any analogy involving the 18th century US and modern China. My point is simply that Han Han’s offhanded dismissal of the possibility of democracy in China perhaps deserves a bit more questioning than it has gotten.

Moreover, I hope we can all agree once and for all that the suzhi argument is a load of crap. If a bunch of uneducated slave-owning religious fundamentalists could take on the world’s greatest power and establish one of its longest-lasting (representative) democratic states, why is it so impossible that Chinese people could do the same thing?

(Whether or not they would is another question, perhaps for a future post. This one is already way, way too long.)

Elections with Chinese Characteristics

Since late May this year, some 30 Chinese citizens have announced their intentions to run for the local People’s Congress elections this year. This candidacy wave has burst into nation-wide enthusiasm, not least because many of them announced their candidacy on Weibo, which means their campaigns will be followed by people throughout China. Prominent intellectuals and figures, including Han Han and Yu Jianrong, have openly declared their support.

This is not the first time that independent candidates have run. Famously, Yao Lifa won a seat in the local People’s Congress of Qianjiang in Hubei in 1998, and lawyer Xu Zhiyong did the same in his Beijing district in 2003. But they are rare cases of success. Already, officials have interpreted the laws to their own advantage, suggesting that certain bureaucratic hurdles need to be overcome for independent candidates. This was what the National People’s Congress Legal Affairs Committee said on 8 June:

In the county and village level People’s Congress elections, only parties, people’s organizations and voters can legally nominate ‘representative candidates’, who will then be confirmed as ‘official representative candidates’ after discussions, consultations or pre-selections. There is no such thing as ‘independent candidates’. ‘Independent candidates’ have no legal basis.

How far these candidates can go remain uncertain, as the Communist Party is applying various tactics to rein them in. Three independent candidates, Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua, all from the city of Xinyu, received various kinds of harassment from the local government ever since they announced their candidacy, and prior to their being disqualified for the election in late June. Another candidate, Shanghai businessman Xia Shang, was visited by the Ministry of State Security this month, and had his two companies selected for tax audit. A prominent candidate, media worker Li Chengping, also had his Internet service to his home cut off earlier this month.

In China, direct elections are restricted at county and township level People’s Congresses. In principle, everyone can run for elections. But in practice, most candidates are nominated by the Communist Party or official election committees. Independent candidates often face many significant hurdles and official interventions which undermine their electoral fortunes. This could range from official denouncements, banning of media reports on local elections, official and quasi-official intimidation and inducements targeted at voters, to manipulation and fraud at the ballot boxes.

Hu Ping, a New-York based democracy advocate, has recently written an article describing the realities of elections with Chinese characteristics. He himself belonged to the candidacy wave which prevailed in early 1980s, a by-gone era of a more relaxed political atmosphere. In 1980, as a philosophy student at Peking University, he was elected as a people’s delegate in China’s first local People’s Congress elections conducted under the then newly-in-force Election law. Sadly, some thirty years later, he still sees little progress in China’s migration towards elections of any real meanings.

Hu Ping: Better Call Them ‘Self-Nominated’ Candidates

Elections for local People’s Congresses in China are approaching. The appearance of “independent candidates” has sparked much heated debates.

The word “independent candidate” originates from elections under a democratic system. It refers to candidates who are not affiliated with any political parties. Democracy, usually described as party politics, is essentially competition for public duties. In order to win elections, you can be an independent candidate, but a better way is to utilize the resources of an organization. Therefore, people with different political stances form different parties, and put up their own candidates. Election then becomes a competition between parties. However, there are also some contestants who do not belong to any parties. We call them independent candidates.

China is a one-party authoritarian state. People are stripped of their rights to form parties and organizations. Therefore, there is no inter-party competition in Chinese elections. In the local level People’s Congress elections, the so-called nominated candidates from parties and people’s organizations are in fact candidates endorsed by the Communist Party. But even the Communist Party thinks that it does not look good if local level People’s Congress elections are tightly controlled. Hence, apart from candidates nominated by the party, a person with the recommendations of ten or more voters can also become a candidate.

According to the Election Law, the number of candidates recommended by a party cannot exceed the number of seats in that district. Furthermore, to ensure that the election is competitive, the number of candidates should exceed the number of seats by one third to double the amount. That is, if there are two seats in a district, there should be three to four candidates. As the party can only put forward at most two candidates, the remaining one or two candidates would have to be recommended by voters. There are nearly one million election districts in the whole of China, and over two million local People’s Congress representatives. Theoretically, there would also be over two million candidates who are nominated by voters.

In some districts, for example Beijing, there are specific regulations which stipulate that party-nominated candidates cannot exceed 20% of the number of seats. In such districts, the election results are usually moderated at a 20:80 ratio. In fact, in the two local People’s Congress elections held in Beijing in 2003 and 2006, party candidates did not get 20% of the seats, while voter-recommended candidates got more than 80%.

If we describe candidates nominated by voters as independent candidates, can we say that independent candidates achieve landslide victories in these elections because the Communist Party got less than 20% of the seats?

The answer is no. This is because the so-called voter-nominated candidates are in fact controlled by the Communist Party. Technically speaking, the government will divide voters into groups, and appoint a leader in each group. The leader will then chair meetings which select candidates, who will then go on and secure the required number of voter recommendations. It goes without saying that these candidates are trusted by the government, and most of them are Communist Party members. For example, in the Beijing local People’s Congress elections in 2003 and 2006, over 70% of elected candidates endorsed by voters are party members.

How about the “independent candidates” that we are all paying attention to? The important thing is not whether they are nominated by voters, but that they volunteer as candidates by themselves, and then secure enough voter nominations. They are neither official candidates, nor being recommended, but are self-nominated. It is on this point that they break the official control of the election, either in public or secret.

In other words, the so-called voter-nominated candidates can be classified into two types: one is being recommended, in fact appointed officially; the other is self-nominated. It is the latter type which is causing the controversy, and which the government is most afraid of.

Lei Tao from the Beijing Academy of Social Science’s Center of Sociology has written a book called The Logic of Participation, which tracks the behavior and participation of Beijing voters in elections. The book discusses the various names for self-nominated candidates: “independent candidates”, “people-nominated candidates”, and “self-nominated candidates”. The author thinks that the description “independent” is only relative to party-nominated candidates; “people-nominated” also fails to describe the nature of these candidates. He insists on using the term “self-nominated candidates”. I think Lei’s conclusion is logical. Let’s call them “self-nominated candidates”.

Of course, this term also has its own problems. It may cause confusions for people outside mainland China: “self-nominated candidates”? Could there be candidates who are not self-nominated? In democratic societies, even party-nominated candidates have to first declare by themselves their intention to stand for the election.

This is a so-called “Chinese characteristic”. In mainland China, most candidates in different levels of People’s Congress are not self-nominated, but recommended by someone else, mostly party leaders. In the eyes of the leaders, self-nomination is a kind of heresy. From this point, we can see how far away Communist China is from real elections.

Debating the Massacre

Modern China is a paradox. Economic prosperity coexists with political autocracy. As Jeffrey Wasserstrom has beautifully written in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Huxley’s Brave New World might be as good a guide or better to China as Orwell’s 1984. It is important to keep in mind that different modes of control are in place in China. It is easy to imagine China as the kind of ‘Big Brother’ state that Orwell imagined, with ubiquitous surveillance and harsh crackdown on political dissidents. But less obvious is how ‘vulgar materialism’ imagined by Huxley could serve as a kind of control.

Perhaps Chen Guanzhong’s science fiction The Fat Years: China, 2013 best explains it. There are obvious parallels between Chen’s novel and 1984. But the hidden message of the novel is that Chinese people ultimately opt for a Brave New World at the expense of living in 1984. In the novel, He Dongsheng, a Politburo member, confesses that there was a period of chaos between the start of global economic meltdown and the advent of China’s prosperous era. For a week, the Central Government takes little action to suppress the public disquiet, panic buying and looting, and China was on the brink of falling into anarchy.

In He Dongsheng’s words, it is a deliberate attempt by the government to instil fear among the people, a fear that the government would abandon them. As Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan, isolation, impoverishment and violence was the state of nature of human beings. Insecurity was the ultimate fear. In a country as big as China, people fear anarchy and chaos. Instead of pursuing freedom, people would bow in front of the unpleasant Leviathan, because only through it can the security and life of people be guaranteed.

As the novel’s plot unfolds, the Central Government enacts a nation-wide dramatic crackdown on alleged criminals over the next few weeks, with absolute state violence which kills the guilty and innocent alike. Paradoxically, the public welcomes the crackdown. After the crackdown, the government announces that China has officially entered the prosperous age. Everyone in China is happy and complacent, with the party’s rule ever more secure.

It is with this background that two recent opinion pieces in BBC Chinese are illuminating. One of them argues why the massacre in Tiananmen Square 22 years ago was necessary to avoid chaos, which was strongly rebutted by the other piece. One is a path down Brave New World, the other anti-1984. Chinese people know that they live in a politically repressed regime, but this regime has brought a lot of material benefits to most people. And people are inherently shortsighted, because they are wired to enjoy pleasures and convenience at present, not freedom and democracy in some distant future. As experience in other democratized countries show, the transition to democracy is never a smooth path, and sometimes accidental. The fear, then, is that the Chinese Communist Party could ultimately entrench its rule in a 1984-style Brave New World.

By the time, the June 4 massacre would have been forgotten in China, and the answer to the debate, translated below, would have seemed too obvious.

1. The massacre was necessary to prevent chaos

ZLR: The June 4 massacre helped China avoid turmoil. As everyone knows, Russia does not have a democratic tradition. It is only through Peter the Great’s blood and iron policy and Stalin’s authoritarian rule that Russia became a global superpower. The ‘new thinking’ of Gorbachev and Yeltsin converted Russia into a second rate power. Putin the ‘new tsar’ brings back the superpower dream to Russia. Obviously, Russia has paid a heavy price in its recent history. In a similar way, China does not have a democratic tradition. Under the absolute power of the Kingly Way, China had a glorious history and stood out among the nations of the East. In China’s history, there also emerged a wave of democratic and liberal thinking. Luckily, Deng Xiaoping decisively upheld the banner of ‘stability over everything’ and suppressed this liberal wave through blood and iron tactics. It is the June 4 massacre which helped China avoid further turmoil.

拓腾斋主人: From the conclusion, it can be seen that the author is not familiar with Russian history. True, Russia became stronger under Peter the Great. But his concentration of power led to the concentration of wealth among dictators and grievances among the people.

On the eve of the October Revolution, Pyotr Stolypin ruled with an iron fist to defend the Tsar and brutally suppressed liberalism and socialism. The nation’s economic resources were plundered by a group of oligarchs through predatory policy and land reform. At the time, the Russian economy grew rapidly (isn’t this familiar in today’s China?), but reforms enacted by the dictators were highly unfair. As the private interests of most people were hurt, social dissatisfaction rose, leading to the October Revolution and the overthrow of the Tsar. You said dictatorship was good for Russia. But why did the rule of the Tsar collapse?

Under Stalin’s iron fist rule, many people, including Communist Party members, were persecuted and massacred. Stalin’s Russia was indeed a superpower on a par with the US. But after his death, malpractices and problems not obvious under his rule surfaced. Bureaucratic planning led to a brittle economy. Tanks and warships were more numerous than bread and biscuits. The common people endured a harsh life.

By this time, institutional reform in Russia was inevitable, even with or without Gorbachev. The downfall of Russia was not due to Gorbachev’s reforms, but the accumulation of abuses since the Stalin era. As for Putin, you can say he ruled with an iron fist, but he was ‘democratically elected’. Only with over ten years of democratic rule since Yeltsin could Russia hope for a renaissance.

2. A stable China benefits the world

ZLR: The June 4 massacre sent a message to the world: China is a responsible country. Uncontrolled liberalization will only lead to chaos, and it will be a disaster for the world. As Deng Xiaoping said: ‘If it is chaotic to the extent that the Party and national administration cannot function, power over the army will be seized by different parties, leading to civil war. Civil war will lead to massive loss of lives, a break-up of China, decline of productivity, destruction of transportation, and millions of refugees. This will affect the Asia Pacific, the most economically vibrant region of the world. It’s a global disaster. Hence, China cannot afford chaos. It’s about being responsible to China and the world.’ (Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume 3, pp.360-361) Today, China is appraised for combating the global financial crisis and contributing to global economic growth. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner admitted in his Peking University speech that rapid and stable growth in China brings concrete benefits to the US and the world. In this context, the whole world benefits from the June 4 massacre.

拓腾斋主人: The aims of the student demonstrations 22 years ago were to commemorate Hu Yaobang and oppose corruption and official profiteering. It was an expression of the wish that China could be strong and its government clean. Expressions of opinion like this, involving tens of thousands of people, are very common in Taiwan, Europe and America. In the West, governments would at most dispatch police to maintain order. But in China, the government acts as if it faces a deadly enemy. The government threatens the public with the argument that chaos could lead to civil war in China, and uses the army to crush demonstrations. According to the author’s logic, challenging the Party’s authority is messing up with China. In the first half of the 20th century, the Chinese Communist Party organized countless demonstrations, protests and even militarized struggles to challenge the Nationalist Party. At the time, who is messing up with China? Who is pushing China to the brink of civil war?

3. China is different from the West

ZLR: The June 4 massacre proved to the world that there is no universal principle. Although God has created diverse species, there is no one species which can adapt to any environment […] Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping cannot use their talents to rule in Western countries; Washington and Churchill would neither be great rulers in the East. Beef and bread is the main course of the West; in China it is sesame bread. ‘Dad beating up the son’ will be viewed as violation of human rights in the West; in China it is a show of affection. Democracy can only bear fruits in the West; in China rulers have to rely on authoritarianism. If the June 4 massacre occurred in the West, the government will surely topple, society becomes chaotic and development stopped. But in China, it strengthens the rule of the Party, society becomes stable and development accelerated.

拓腾斋主人: I cannot but ask a question: in China’s five thousand years of history, was a universal, democratic system ever being implemented? (I emphasized universal because democracy is not a privilege of the West. Japan, South Korea and Indonesia are all democracies.) Practice is the sole criteria of testing the truth. If democracy has never been implemented, on what basis can we say that it is not suitable for China? Since the Opium War, when shoots of democracy were emerging, dictators would mask their fear with the sophistry that democracy is not suitable for China.

Empress Dowager Cixi of the late Qing dynasty said that reform was not suitable for China. Then, the ‘Six Gentlemen Martyrs’ were executed. Yuan Shikai said that Chinese people still did not have the wisdom to practise democracy. Then, he became the emperor. The ‘anti-revolutionary’ Nationalist Party said that democracy was impossible in China. At that time, the ‘progressive’ Communist Party said: ‘They say that democracy is foreign and cannot be applied in China… Democracy is better than non-democracy. This is like mechanized production is better than manual labor, whether in or out of China… Some say even if China needs democracy, it has to be different, and Chinese people should not be granted freedom. This is ridiculous. It’s like saying that the West should use the Christian calendar, and China should use the lunar calendar.’ (Xinhua Daily, 17 May 1944) 70 years ago, the Communist Party told everyone that democracy is universal. How come in the 70 years that follows, democracy was never being practised, but the Communist Party switched to the side of Empress Dowager Cixi and Yuan Shikai!

4. Obstruction to stability needs to be dealt with severely

ZLR: The June 4 massacre opened a new chapter in the dictatorship of the proletariat. ‘Who is our enemy? Who is our friend? This is the most important question of the revolution.’ (Selected Works of Mao Zedong, 1-4 one-volume edition, p.3) The ‘three big mountains’ were the people’s enemies of yesterday. Today obstruction to stability is the people’s enemy. Today our interests lie in the building of infrastructure. Whoever obstructs the progress of development and stability will be the people’s enemy, no matter what slogans he shouts out. There is no choice and compromise; they need to be dealt with. How to deal with them? Dictatorship. ‘Antagonizing class is the tool of oppression and violence, never anything “benevolent”.’ (ibid. p.1365) The sound of gunfire is the highest form of dictatorship. The June 4 massacre signals a message: ‘If there is need, we will use severe measures to eliminate any chaos which appear.’ (ibid p.349) Bullets are used to kill. Gunfire under the dictatorship of the proletariat is the enemy of obstructers of stability. For those who die, the question of reversing the verdict does not exist.

拓腾斋主人: The author’s logic is not clear. Stability is indeed a pre-requisite for a strong nation. But factors which lead to instability are many. One of them is dictatorship leading to grievances among the people. In such a situation, it would only lead to further instability if the government does not think about what it does wrong, but suppresses expressions of opinion and justice under the banner of ‘stability preservation’.

Looking back in Chinese history, many regimes depended on suppression to maintain stability: the Qin dynasty suppressed the rebellion of Chen Sheng and Wu Guang. But it did not think about reforms, which led to its overthrow by Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. The Tang dynasty was not alarmed by the Huang Chao Rebellion, and it was finally divided up by military governors. The Qing dynasty suppressed the Taiping Rebellion and stopped the Hundred Days’ Reform, only to be overthrown later in the Xinhua Revolution. History teaches us that regimes using the excuse of stability preservation to crack down on dissidents will not last long.

5. Don’t be afraid of foreign criticisms

ZLR: ‘We are dictators. Dear Sir, you are right. We are dictators.’ (ibid. p.1364) ‘Don’t be afraid of foreign criticisms. Their criticisms are all the same – we are uncivilized. Over the years, we endured much of these. But did we collapse?’ (Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume 3, p.286) We must learn from our two forbearers, Mao and Deng, who showed unusual contempt for the world, were fearless and unmatched then and now. Cheers for the June 4 massacre!

拓腾斋主人: Mao Zedong have said a lot of things in his lifetime. I would not argue with the author, and would just quote Mao’s conversation in 1944 with John Service, an American official in China: ‘There is no democracy unless we end dictatorship by one party. Our experience proves that Chinese people understand and need democracy. They don’t need to be taught and guided. Chinese farmers are smart. They care about their rights and interests.’ ‘Every American soldier in China is a living advertisement of democracy… We are not afraid of American influence through democracy. We welcome it.’ (Party History Communications, Vol. 20-21, 1983, compiled by Party History Research Center) These are in Mao Zedong’s own words. He knew clearly when to say the right thing. He needed to, because his power was at stake.

A Call For Democracy in China

Many of you know that Wang Keqin is one of my favorite people to translate. I’ve never met the man, but I have immense respect for his journalistic skills, his courage, and his integrity.

Usually, his blog posts are tough for me to translate. He tends to update infrequently, but when he does, long, incredibly in-depth posts are generally the result. Today’s post is very different, and coming as it does on the eve an important anniversary, it may bear special importance.

Calling all Petitioners and Rights-Protectors to Run for the People’s Congress

[Note: the original post was written entirely in a large font, and accompanied by the image at the top of this page].

Article 34 of the Constitution states; ‘Citizens of the People’s Republic of China who are 18 years of age, regardless of ethnicity, race, sex, profession, class, religion, education level, financial status, or time of residence all have the right to vote and the right to be elected.’ Petitioners and rights-defenders nationwide, learn from Liu Ping ((A petitioner who is running for office and making waves by promoting her candidacy through Sina Weibo)). Instead of petitioning and suffering, it’s better to participate in politics, and protect the rights and interests of the masses and of yourself.

Comments

It’s really a very interesting post, as Wang rarely comes out and so openly advocates something like this; generally he prefers to let the stories he’s uncovered do the talking. In any event, for those curious about the Liu Ping case he’s referring to, China Elections and Governance has more on it.

Hu Xingdou: Wen Jiabao, Hero of the Chinese People

China's greatest hero!

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao really has been on a roll in the past 8 months, seemingly mentioning the need for political reform and the importance of universal values like human rights, freedom and democracy on every possible occasion, starting with his prominently featured article about his former mentor Hu Yaobang in March.

The reactions have been diverse. Parts of the Western press celebrated Wen as China’s new reformer, weighing the possibility of fundamental change in the country’s political system. In liberal Chinese media too he was applauded for his orientation and determination on further reform, especially in the run-up to the party plenum in mid-October when hopes where running high that political reform might be a central issue – which it was not. Others stayed skeptic. Writer Yu Jie suggested that he was merely putting on a show in an attempt to mollify a public that is increasingly unsatisfied with the practices of officialdom. Others, like Hu Ping, pointed out that he might be sincere, but still in no position to take any kind of action.

Still, support has been pouring out to Wen, especially since it became known that the words of the Premier himself had repeatedly fallen prey to the censorship system, most notably his discussion of political issues (see below) during a CNN-interview in late September, cementing his status as a leading figure of the Chinese liberal wing. He also seems to have gotten a verbal smack on the back of his head: A prominent editorial in the party-mouthpiece People’s Daily dismissed the possibility of introducing Western-style democratic institutions (no surprises there) but also stated that “the idea that China’s political reform is seriously lagging behind its remarkable economic development is contrary to […] objective facts” – which seems to be a direct rebuttal to his words in Shenzhen (also see below).

Maybe the greatest impact of his speeches was that they served as an “ideological beacon” for intellectuals to launch their arguments for political reform and discuss specific steps deemed necessary (see for example here and here), but also to voice their general support for universal values and the ideals of freedom and democracy.

When I first read the article below on Hu Xingdous blog I filed it under the latter category, since it contained no explicit reform suggestions. When I found that the article had been harmonized a few days later, not only from his blog but also from others where it had been re-posted, I started wondering about why it had been deemed censorable. While it seems that a few posts containing parts of Wens harmonized interview have been deleted and the way Wens words were pieced together on Hu’s blog does make him sound like a co-author of the Charta 08, the use of the word “hero” and its implications might also have been a reason.

Grandpa Wen always has an open ear for the people...

Once someone is elevated from the status of a normal person – which even Grandpa Wen still is – and is adapted as the hero of a cause, his original words and actions become less and less important. A hero serves as a canvas on which hopes, ideals and expectations are projected. He can become a catalyst for change.

Translation

Wen Jiabao, Hero of the Chinese People

Hu Xingdou, October 8th, 2010

Wen Jiabao is a real hero of the people and a true man of modern China. Within the last couple of month he has brought up [the topic of] political reform on six occasions, showing extraordinary courage. Especially the views that he expressed during an interview with CNN on September 23rd were groundbreaking:

  • “The people’s wishes and need for democracy and freedom are something that cannot be stopped.”
  • “No political party, organization, or individual should be above the constitution and the law. All must act in accordance with the constitution and laws. I see this as a defining feature of a modern political system. I have summed up my political ideals in the following four sentences: to let everyone lead a good and dignified life, to let everyone feel safe and secure, to create a fair and just society and to let everyone have confidence in the future.”
  • “Although there are various debates and views in society and in spite of all kinds of obstacles, I will do everything in my power to unswervingly pursue the realization of my ideals and advance the process of political reform. I would like to say the following to underline my determination: ‘In spite of strong wind and harsh rain, I will not yield until my last breath.'”
  • “It is the people and the power of the people that determine the history and the future of the nation. The wishes and will of the people are irresistible. Those who will walk along this way will thrive; those who go against it will fail.”

Wen Jiabaos “appeal” represents the conscience of officialdom and the hope of the people. It embodies the determination of the people and is a call out from a developing society. His words resonated with and shook the soul of every Chinese.

Before this interview, Wen Jiabao cited and further developed Deng Xiaoping’s ideas during his recent speech in Shenzhen:

  • “We should not only promote the reform of the economic system, we also have to move forward with a reform of the political system. If we don’t ensure a reform of the political system, we are in danger of loosing the advancements we made in the economic reforms and will not be able to realize our goal of modernization.”
  • “We must continue to emancipate us from old ideas and dare to explore. We cannot stagnate and even less move backwards. Stagnation and regression might not only ruin the achievements of 30 years of political reform and destroy valuable opportunities for development, it could also suffocate the vital undertaking of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Furthermore, acting against the will of the Chinese people can only be a dead end.”

At the National Work Conference for Legal Administration, Wen Jiabao – referring to the lack of rule of law and the personal rule that has taken hold in China – stressed, that the rule of law is the most important benchmark of a mature and modern political system, we must “govern according to the law and built a government founded on the rule of law”. “In a time of peace and development, the greatest danger to a ruling party is corruption. And the root of corruption is a lack of supervision and restriction of power. If these issues are not sufficiently resolved, the nature of the political power itself can change, leading to a situation where the whole undertaking comes to a stop because the leading figure ceases to exist.”

Wen Jiabao can be described as the direct successor of Deng Xiaoping in the cause of reform and opening-up. He holds up Deng’s ideas and continuously appeals for a liberation from old ideologies and further political reform. He cares about civil rights and peoples livelihood. Sparing no effort, walking into impoverished villages and dangerous mines, he also was the first to appear in the earthquake disaster area and at the location of the mud-slides. Countless Chinese were moved by these actions and history should always remember the name of this great Premier.

In one of his answers, Wen also pointed out that “democracy, rule of law, freedom, human rights, equality and fraternity are not [values] exclusive to capitalism, [but that] these are common achievements of the entire world reached in a long process of civilization and values pursued by all of humankind.” He believes that universal values are the root of the party and the foundation of the republic.

Thousands sacrificed their lives for the universal values of freedom and democracy. But now a group of people – that had once proudly pursued these ideals – has sunken into vested interests. “Freedom” and “democracy” became a thorn in their sides and thus turned into “sensitive” and “filtered” words. Have these people done justice to their predecessors and comrades-in-arms that sacrificed themselves for freedom and democracy? The word “republicanism” itself contains the concepts of freedom and democracy and thousands of corpses have piled up in the building of the republic. So when groups with vested interests and reactionaries try to ban those ideals today, they are essentially trying to subvert the republic and overturn the state!

Fortunately the people’s hero Wen Jiabao defends the founding principles of the party and the republic like a lone soldier and courageous knight. But he is by no means alone, the majority of 1.3 billion people stand behind him.

A small number of people – failing to understand high-level politics – criticize the Premier who is fighting bravely on his own for “showing off and playing nice” and insinuate that he is “all talk but no action”. They do not comprehend that Wen is only one person amongst nine and accounts for only one vote in nine, even less that his policy making power lies in the domain of economics. Expecting him to abolish the reeducation through labor system and to release certain people [is futile since these] are by no means things that he can accomplish. Furthermore [it should be considered] that for politicians speaking actually equals acting. [Speaking] is a form of social mobilization and its power and value might even be stronger than that of some particular actions.

Some people object that Wen is only about saving the existing system, since he always uses [official] terms like “socialistic” and other such concepts in his speeches, and that he hasn’t really pushed for independence of the legal system and freedom of the press as [a realization of] universal values. This understanding is indeed naïve. If Wen Jiabao – who is part of the system but also wants to promote social progress – had abandoned the language conventions of said system (and as a matter of fact, real socialism isn’t such a bad thing), he would have been cast of the stage a long time ago. And where are the opportunities to do something good for the people then? With populists and ultra-leftists accusing him of being a “capitalist roader” he is already being attacked from all sides.Therefore Wens distinctive way of speech actually reflects his great political wisdom.

Some denounce the support for Wen Jiabao as “infantilism” and think that it is a manifestation of a “servant mentality” of relying on wise monarchs and honest officials. Actually, in a people’s society officials can be criticized, but should also be praised, as long as all judgment is passed on the basis of dignity and equality. Indeed, China should not wait for wise monarchs and honest officials, instead citizens have a responsibility to show their appreciation and enthusiasm to the politicians with modern concepts that are here now.

Therefore, we give all our support to Premier Wen and hope that he realizes his aims – “To promote political reform with all one’s strength” and “to let equality and justice shine brighter than the sun.”

At the moment Wen might be the most powerless politician and some people might even rejoice when they see him besieged, but the majority of the Chinese people stand upright behind their hero – Wen Jiabao!

Comment

While it remains to be seen if Wen Jiabao is an idle talker, a true reformer or if he will turn out to be China’s highest ranking dissident, there surely are more eyes on him now when it comes to the political direction that China is going to take in the future. If the picture that Hu Xingdou draws of him is any indication, he does have the potential to become more than simply a politician/benevolent grandpa. As a hero, even an accidental one, he would not be so “powerless” anymore – just remember the chain of events that the death of the much revered reformer Hu Yaobang set in motion.

Yang Hengjun: The Fall of Authoritarianism

The following is a translation of a recent post from Yang Hengjun, a political espionage novelist and blogger. This article is part three of a series of articles he is writing about the post-80’s generation. We have also translated the first and second parts.

In this article, Yang Hengjun outlines his “70-year limit on autocratic rule theory”, which suggests that since the beginning of the 20th century when dynastic rule came to an end in China, history has moved “man” toward democracy. Yang uses examples of the fall of the Soviet Union and Taiwan’s democratic elections in the 1990s to explain how although historical determinism does tend to move toward democracy, it is ultimately up to “man” to create his own history.

Translation

Chinese people today are equally curious about the past and the future, but seem to be disinterested in the present, as if they already understood very clearly today’s world. In order to cater to the interests of people, Chinese scholars seemingly present ideas as though we lived somewhere else, as if the present were nothing more than a link between a mysterious past and an even more mysterious future.China Blog | ChinaGeeks

I’ve always thought that understanding where we stand in the historical context of the present is perhaps more important than understanding the past or the future. Without such an understanding, it is easy to see ourselves as merely the products of our past and/or becoming casualties of the future. The past is certainly very important, but it does not determine the present, nor does it determine our future. Indeed, although there is no way of predicting the future, there is certainly a way of shaping it.

And if we’re going to talk about history, we have to first talk about historical determinism, which, simply, is the course along which history develops [….] However, the fact that this theory has no way of explaining many phenomenon has made it the subject of criticism for many scholars.

For example, we see that since the establishment of America as the first democratic government 230 years ago, over 60% of the countries on the planet have become democratic countries. The theory of historical determinism, then, would say that history has traditionally tended to move in the direction of democracy. It does not, however, explain how it is that that the other countries which should be democratic are still living under autocratic regimes.

China Blog | ChinaGeeksAnd those calling into question [the theory of historical determinism] have their reasons. But they should also consider this: It is understandable that some countries will, for a short time, stray from the course history has set. However, looking at the larger trends taking place, does the absence of primitive societies, and lack of modern-day feudal and slave societies, not prove in itself that history has developed along a certain path? That history occasionally creates detours is unavoidable, but such detours in the long run cannot help from being swept up in the larger tides of history.

We shouldn’t over-analyze the affects that believing in historical determinism could have on our pursuit for free democracy. For example, some may use historical determinism as an excuse for inaction. Such believers may think that as history progresses it will naturally bring with it democracy, and as such fighting for it would be useless. But this constitutes just a small portion of believers. It is also possible that some, because of their belief, will emphatically stand on the correct side of history [and fight for what they believe in].

As for the non-believers, some believe that autocracy will reign for ages, that history has determined eternal authoritarian rule. But there are also some believers with lofty ideals and aspirations who believe that as long as they endeavor to that they can bring democracy to us today. So, although you can negate the existence of historical determinism, history most certainly has its own trajectory. Believe in and learn from history, but don’t follow it blindly. We create our own history.

And since we are discussing history, we need to discuss an even more important element to history, which is “man” [….]

“Man” is historical determinism’s most perplexing element. As everyone who has read a history book knows, behind every crucial juncture in history, behind every moment viewed as being an “inevitable” product of history’s trajectory, stood men and women who rewrote the course of history. This “man” [those who rewrote history, are those which] I speak about.

It would not be the slightest bit of an overstatement to say that the study of humanities at its very core is man. The research of any society or historical phenomenon uncovers the decisions and development of man, because if it were not for man and his decisions then the world would be forever unchanged.

Let’s look at a few examples which illustrate both history’s trajectory as well as how man is its most important element. According to a theory which I’ve tentatively titled as the “70-year limit on autocratic rule theory”, since the end of dynastic rule [in the early 20th century], most countries formally ruled by a autocratic regime have moved away from an autocratic government and toward democracy.China Blog | ChinaGeeks

Twenty years ago, an enormous change took place: Seemingly overnight, the collapse of the Soviet Union befuddled not only America and other western countries, but also the Soviet Union itself. How was it that such a gigantic shift occurred?

The key reason why the Soviet Union dissolved after 70 years, but North Korea and Cuba continued [as Communist states] past 1989, is because of the individuals involved. Seventy years after the establishment of the USSR, the founders and the founders’ predecessors had long exited the political stage. The [slogans for change and revolution] that legitimized the original founders’ rule no longer held the same weight with rulers of the 80s.

It is natural for a country’s citizens to call into question the authority of new rulers. Such leaders must legitimize their rule and power through some means, with many prompting economic growth or establishing a democratic government. How long can an authoritarian government rule without a legitimate ruler? History has told us that such countries do not last any longer than 70 years, with the only exception being China’s feudal dynasties.

And what was it about these dynasties which allowed them to perpetuate their rule for tens or in some cases hundreds of years? Aside from being without advanced technology, the most important contributor to the perpetuation of their reign was the legitimacy behind a ruler handing down power to his son. This process of a ruler directly bestowing power to their chosen heir was autocracy’s only stable model for passing on power. The blood ties existing between the old and new solidified the link between past and present [….]

China Blog | ChinaGeeksAnd this idea is something very familiar to Chinese and other Asians. We’ve seen a recent example of this when Chiang Ching-kuo (who received power directly from his father, Chiang Kai-shek) handed down power to Li Teng-hui, but purposely did not appoint an heir to succeed Li Teng-hui. And it was obvious [to many] that Li Teng-hui had no legitimate power. As a result [of Li Teng-hui and the Kuomintang’s weakening power], Li Teng-hui had no choice but to find a way to bring new legitimacy to his power.

At that time, there were few options. One was to continue fighting the mainland, with whom Taiwan was evenly matched militarily. It seemed at that stage that the mainland could have reintegrated the small island with relative ease. However, the mainland’s economic development was leagues ahead of Taiwan’s, and as such resistance seemed a far-fetched way to legitimize Li Teng-hui’s rule.

The second choice was to bolster the economy. Creating a prosperous country which could provide basic needs for its citizens, restoring their happiness and dignity, would be a much stronger way to legitimize power than staring down the barrel of a gun. But Taiwan had already used slogans of “economic development” in the past, as is known with the period of the Four Asian Tigers.

So, [without much of a choice] Li Teng-hui used momentum which had already begun growing for democracy to push for democratic elections, and as a result became one of the founding fathers of Taiwanese democracy. Go look in the history books: it took just about 70 years from the time Chiang Kai-shek took power in the 20s to the time when the first democratic election took place in the 90s. Remember this number [….]

And now let’s look back to 20 years ago to when Eastern Europe began to have enough of Soviet rule. Why was it that the Eastern Europeans had had enough? The answer is simple, really: the rulers of Eastern Europe were not the men and women who originally founded those countries—they were Soviet lackeys whose legitimacy was established and perpetuated by Soviet tanks. Under such circumstances, would it really be possible [for anyone] to maintain peace for long?

At the time, the sudden dissolution of the USSR made many people’s head spin. But history knows better [….] Those who were truly surprised by the demise of the Soviet Union were obviously not thinking clearly. The ultimate difference between countries which can and cannot weather moments of tumultuous political turmoil lies in the legitimacy of their rulers.China Blog | ChinaGeeks

And what are the third-, fourth-, fifth-and-so-on-generation successors to do when those who originally legitimized their rule have long left the political stage? I’m afraid that the only method of legitimizing and holding on to power is by staring down the barrel of a gun. [And it’s typical for rulers in such a position] to say, “We are powerful.” Such an approach to legitimizing and holding power is very dangerous.

Read the history books and you’ll see that in 1979, when the Soviet Union was only 60 years old, that its military might and foreign diplomacy was second only to America’s. America and the Soviet Union were two superpowers sharing the world stage. Since then, what other country throughout history has come close to matching America’s might? [….]

Those who have read this far are probably thinking that this “70-year limit on autocratic rule theory” is absolutely the product of historical determinism. And, actually, it’s not, because in all of these changes we’ve seen a number of instances [where “man” has changed the course of history]. And these instances [of historical change] were not anticipated by contemporaries of the time.

If throughout the Soviet Union’s 70-year history its citizens had acted as slaves, then everything would still be the same. If 70 years ago the Soviet Union did not have Gorbachev, then nothing would have changed. If after 70-years of rule, Taiwan’s single-party dictatorship had not used democracy to resolve the political issues which were arising, it is very possible that the Kuomintang would never again have bounced back as they have, to the extent that they are still in power today.

I think that young people [reading] should understand what I’m saying here. The issue is not whether or not history is already determined, or whether or not it follows a pre-determined course. The issue lies with “man”. The past was created by man, the present is created by man, and the future will be created by man.

And don’t you tell me that while other countries are created by man, that we Chinese are created by history. Don’t you feed me the clichés that “special interest groups” are bad, that they create history, that they will never led power slip from their tightly clinched fists, that those around you are too ignorant. This is all nonsense. Are you not also “man”?

So, I leave you with these words of encouragement: the future is not for speculating, or waiting to see what will happen, the future is waiting to be created. As long as everyone works hard together, as long as each individual does their utmost, then we can certainly walk into the future we hope for.

New on ChinaGeeks:

A translation of a piece from the Economist appears in ChinaGeeks Chinese today: 《经济学人》撰文称中国政府庆幸地震发生在青海而不是西藏. We have also updated our story on the Qinghai earthquake students to reflect the most recent total casualty numbers, and also revised the student numbers..