China: Between Myth and Reality

Discussion in 'China' started by ejazr, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    China: Between Myth and Reality Asharq Alawsat

    By Amir Taheri

    As the year 2010 drifts towards its end, the talk in Western political circle is about the fading of the United States as a superpower and the emergence of China as successor. The recent G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, revealed the beginnings of a new balance of power, with China's star rising at the expense of the US and the European Union.

    Even before Seoul, China had flexed its muscle on a number of occasions.

    At the summit in Copenhagen, it brushed aside US and EU pressure to commit itself to a new charter to deal with climate change. Later, it ignored US and EU demands to increase the value of its currency. In a more dramatic way, last month China forced Japan to throw in the towel in the row over a Chinese fishing boat that had violated Japanese waters.

    Talk of China as a potential global power is not new.

    Much of the 19th century was dominated by fear of China, or 'Yellow Peril' as it was called before Political Correctness consigned the sobriquet to oblivion. Once China had obtained its independence in 1911, a more positive image began to take shape. By 1949, however, that image had been buried under the red avalanche unleashed by Mao Zedong.

    Almost 40 years ago, with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution dying down, Alain Peyrfitte, a French politician, wrote a bestseller entitled ' When China Wakes Up'. In it, he envisaged a China that, thanks to its position as the world's most populous nation, claims leadership.

    At the time, Peyrfitte's prediction appeared far-fetched. China was one of the world's poorest countries still facing the threat of famine.

    Today, the picture appears different. China remains the most populous nation at least until 2020 when India is projected to overtake it. It is also the world's fourth largest country. Until even 10 years ago, everyone in the West saw China as a great market. Today, it is everyone else that is a market for China. Leaving aside the oil exporting countries, almost every trading partner of China has a huge trade deficit with it.

    How realistic is the image of China as the new world leader?

    The principal argument of the 'China-as-World-Leader' school is economic. In 2009, China's GDP rose to $8.5 trillion, making it the world's third largest economy. However, when it comes to GDP per head China is numbered 131. The average Dutchman is six times richer than his Chinese counterpart.

    But what about China's annual growth rate?

    China's growth rate of 8 per cent is certainly impressive compared to two per cent n the European Union and, perhaps, three per cent in the US. However growth rate is often higher in developing economies. According to the World Bank, in 2009 Iraq, for example, had a growth rate of 34 per cent while Afghanistan's rate of growth was projected at 22 per cent. In the first phases of the Industrial Revolution, Great Britain enjoyed average annual growth rates of 15 per cent.

    In any case, economic power alone cannot propel a nation into a leadership position. For example, Japan and Germany, the fourth and fifth largest economies in the world, do not play a political role commensurate with their economic power. Candidates for global leadership must meet a number of conditions.

    The first of these is to ensure the goodwill of neighbours in one's region.

    On that score, China appears in a weak position. China has long-standing territorial disputes with Russia, Japan, Vietnam and India. In the 1960s the Russians occupied large tracts of Chinese territory along the Usuri River. In the same period, China attacked and occupied big chunks of Indian territory, including almost a third of Kashmir. China is also in dispute over continental shelf, water frontiers and islands with South Korea and Japan, not to mention its claim of ownership of the Taiwanese archipelago.

    Russia, India and Japan are not alone in watching the rise of China with concern. Indonesia, Vietnam and The Philippines would also regard the emergence of China as a hegemonic power with little enthusiasm.

    In fact, among China's immediate or near neighbours, only Pakistan could be regarded as an ally, and that because of shared hostility towards India.

    The second condition that a candidate for global leadership must meet is internal peace. Here, too, China's position is less than secure.

    Tibet may never be able to break away. But it could continue to blacken the country's image while raising the cost of its absorption into the Chinese sphere.

    Even more complicated is the situation in East Turkestan or Xingjian as the Chinese prefer to call it, where the Muslim Uighur nation resists forcible sinification.

    More importantly, the current system of one-party politics plus capitalist economy might not be sustainable for long.

    Zhao Ziyang, the reformist leader of the Chinese Communist Party who was pushed aside after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, had recognised that contradiction as early as 1987. In his journals, smuggled out of China and published in the West, he warns that without democratisation the country could head for instability and even disintegration.

    China's ' economic miracle' has created a new middle class of around 200 million people and brought more than 400 million others out of poverty along the country's seaboard. However, that leaves almost half a billion people still in poverty with at least 250 million in precarious employment. Export-driven, China's economy remains vulnerable without a strong domestic market.

    Thirdly, a candidate for global leadership needs an attractive cultural profile.

    Here, too, China s found wanting. The world's third largest economy is not yet producing writers, composers, painters, filmmakers and designers that could attract a following in the outside world. In the same register, China does not feature among the world's leading scientific innovating powers. In 2009, less than three per cent of scientific and technological patents were registered by China.

    To play a global leadership role, a great power also needs a wealth of knowledge and experience about the world. Here, too, China is far behind. Apart from English which has become popular with China's new middle classes, few Chinese learn foreign languages. Nor has China developed the research institutions dedicated to the study of other cultures and societies.

    Over the past 20 years, China has become the world's factory, manufacturing cheap consumer goods for sale in Western markets. In other words, low-paid Chinese workers have been subsidising wealthy Western consumers, in part thanks to a national currency that is kept below its real value.

    Although a great power that must play a role in shaping the global agenda, China still lacks the wherewithal for assuming world leadership. It would be both unfair and potentially dangerous to propel it into a position for which it is not ready. The greatest service that China's leaders are offering the rest of the world is keeping their country, a quarter of mankind, relatively stable and peaceful.

    Whether one likes it or not, the US must continue to bear the burden of world leadership. Right now, partly thanks to its clueless president, the US appears to be in decline as it did under Jimmy Carer in the 1970s. Nevertheless, news of its demise as a world power may prove to be widely exaggerated.
     
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  3. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, in a simple word, china is a devil while west is a angel.

    so,even if west had some faults, west would still be a angel with some faults!
    even if CHina had some merits, CHina would still be a devil with some merit!

    guys, remember it!
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    China will be devil until it remains communist.People are more weary of Totalitarian regimes then the one which are under democratic ones.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  5. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    What is there to remember ? Only merit china has got is that its cheap. I mean a cheap economy with a cheap military and foreign policy.
     
  6. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    I am wondering in real live you also talk in this same way.
    Anyway, As a chinese, I think the merit China has got are to lift the largest numbers of people from dirt poor, managed to increase the average life span of chinese to 73 yrs old which is not usual among developing countries, and also managed to increase the consumption of meat, fruits and other foods as well as clothes to a level which higher than those of almost all developing countries or even some developed countries such as south Korea. And although the real estate price is going up with an unacceptable pace, average Chinese people still has a pretty good number in terms of occupancy of livable space per cap which achieved by using very low leverage. Another merit is the mileage of high way and the number 1 high speed train is unimaginable for most of other countries developed or not.
    The most important point is China achieved all above through a rather peaceful way i.e trading not invading nor colonizing. China has not been part of war in the past 20 yrs, the only one in the big 5 of UN.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    To understand the situation, one has to understand the philosophy of the peoples.

    In China, because of the mindset groomed by the Concept of Legalism, wherein the Emperor in the Past and now, the State, is supposed to have total loyalty and thus control over the people.

    If one looks at the thread started by Badguy of China displaying his house, has mentioned that his parents are bartering off their independent bungalow to the State for two small apartments and some money. Such a situation may not happen in India since no one wants to barter his land or house or bungalow for an alternate accommodation of two small apartments and some money.

    In fact, if you have heard about Singur, the farmers were ready to die rather than sell their land to a company which was to produce cars. In fact, the compensation that was offered by the State and the Company was not to their satisfaction, as also for the fact, that none wanted to give up their land.

    Likewise, even those who hand over the property to the promoters in the urban area do not do so until they get a hefty compensation and a few flats also thrown in their way.

    As for the Chinese population having meat, fruits and vegetable, it is easy for a Communist country to dictate terms to their population but not so in a democracy. For China it is the easiest, even better than that what was for Russia. There is the mindset shaped by Legalism, then there is the Communist Government whose writ cannot be violated, then you have the Hukou system (where the population remains in the area where they were born and has to get permission if they are to migrate) and the Danwei system (the Work Unit where the organisation in which one works is responsible for everything from womb to tomb). All this allows you to control the population’s mind, its movement and even allotment of essential facilities and services, like food and commodities that are required for sustenance or health services.

    In a democracy, such is not possible. People are constantly migrating and each man has to look after his needs and the needs of the family. The State is technically not responsible. That is why even food planning goes for a six and is most speculations!

    High speed railways and eight lane Highways require land. In a Communist regime it is not so difficult to get that land. However, in a democracy, no one will part with his land. Hence, the issue of a Highway or High Speed trains remains slow in implementation since there will be court cases in case the Govt forces the issue. And court cases have to run the process of appeal from the tehsil to the Supreme Court.

    Therefore, comparing China with India is not on an even keel.

    One cannot compare a totalitarian Communist regime, backed by Legalism, Hokou and Danwei with a free for all democracy.

    It may be a point at issue that the development is not through imperialism, but then the development in China is with the stick.

    That is the difference!
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Here is an example of monitoring in China:

    I would say it is a dashed good way to control the economy!

    Give an order and expect it done. Defaulters caught and sent for re-education (nice way to say, Jail) or hung!
     
  9. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    Ray
    a few points:
    1. I am not only comparing China to India, I am comparing China with all countries and trying to find out where it is at now.
    2. We Chinese are very pratical people, we want to see the result and we want to see it in this life not next, so for the past 150-200 yrs, we never had a chance as good as this one to push the whole China to be on top of food chain, we won't change the existing way easily.
    3. In China we believe to get rich is the only way to get rights, respect and control as much resources as possible for us to play the "fair game".
    4. The total resources available is limited, the faster we run the more we can control, of course the less we will left for others.

    To sum up, most of Chinese reorgnize there is no so call "universal value or common value", we have our own way to manage our path of development, and you kind of accept that too in your post
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  10. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I beg to disagree Sir. Communism alone does not a devil make. Some communist countries are devilish, but there have been many many more capitalist countries that have been devilish. Again, some communist countries have done really commendable jobs. I'd encourage you to widen your horizon that will help you to remove such stereotypes and avoid the Aperture Problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_perception) in the thinking context.

    P.S.: If you are completely unaware of the boons of communism, then please refer to Ray Sir's post #7.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  11. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ray Sir I respect your views, but I'd add some of my thoughts

    1) pls refresh your ideas about "hukou' or "danwei' or "Legalism' about China. u seem to be reminiscent of stereotypes of China in 1980's or earlier

    2) in most systems (Capitalism or whatever) state passes laws to regulate econony including anti-trust alike. your mentioned example of 'fordidding limiting shipments of coal across provinces" or " hoarding of oil" etc. IMO are just part of State's functions to run economy. I can speak for sure in the US or Japan or even India there're similar laws or intervention in such activities. So it cannot be anything peculiar to China to 'control the economy'. Typically in the crisis even the US government evidently jumped in to save those 'private' companies who were 'too big to fail', and enact laws to regulate financial sector.

    3) quote each man has to look after his needs and the needs of the family. The State is technically not responsible unquote<<I have great doubt about your point regarding a 'democracy''s role in wellbeing of citizens. In most real democracies there's a social security net for people such as unemployment relief or medicare. it seems u were saying in a 'democracy' people are 'free' to be what they want to be while the state is but a onlooker without any obligations. laissez faire?

    4) u put 'communism' opposite to 'democracy' . It's very debatable.

    5) China isn't communism. IMO there're different phases of development of a country. "totalitarian' or "democracy" are often but means, not the end. There's an evolution , gradually from lower ends of demand to higher. That depends on different priorities.

    6) of course there're lots of paths towards democracy. India is yet to prove her 'democracy' works for the majority , with 'freedom from hunger', 'freedom from fear' alike counted into fundamentals of democracy as well as human rights. There are numerous reports/statistics released by like UNESCO reflecting many malnutritious, or illiterate.. are they included in your 'democracy'? What's the priority for them in a developing nation?
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  12. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    I have to say this is one major reason Chinese are not eager about to change, because we know very clear the pro and con of doing that at this stage of development. Chinese netizens have very clear pictures about how democracy doing in developing countries, especially in India. However, from my experience in DFI, Indian netizens are not very informative about a balance real look of China, I guess this is the result of : 1. language barrier, 2. one sided media report, 3. Covering government i.e government tries to brainwash...
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  13. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, with the rapid growth of salary, more and more CHinese often visit foreign countries ,espeically in southeast Asia.

    Frankly speaking, after visiting those areas,most of Chinese tourists feel that China is not as bad as CCN reports while democracy is not as magic as CNN reports,either. haha.

    guy, do you know what is most famous place of India in Chinese cybernet? it is Ganges and the floating things in the river.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  14. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    In China, Chinese don't trust what government published unless they can prove those info by their own experience or by their own research, they don't trust medias as well, does not matter western or local. they will use internet to do research or to get info from traditional way: asking. Now some members may say in China because of great fire wall, Chinese netizen can't do meaningful research, that is totally mis-informed about China, if you know Chinese and play in any Chinese forum, you will be supprised by all kinds of information from internal or external, there are so many, so upto date and from all sources, public news, private information/story, western medias and local medias all of them, Chinese are so used to electronical way to communicate, China has the largest # of netizens and # of 3g cell phone subscribers in the world for quite some years already, the # is large enough to circular any news to all non-users. Now, you still think chinese are all brainwashed? think again.
     
  15. niharjhatn

    niharjhatn Regular Member

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    I don't doubt this is the case, as the Chinese people probably believe that the remaining parts of India are actually parts of China that was some how stolen away from them <cough AP cough>.
     
  16. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    I knew you'd come up with some sh!t like this. I've actually seen those pictures, they were referenced to me by a chinese friend. So here're a few factoids you can gobble on:

    - The area you see is a small strip of the Ganges along called the ghats measuring no more than 2 km. In particular, those are six ghats: Dasaswamedh, Choushotti, Kedar, Manikarnika, Hanuman and Asi. Varanasi, of which those ghats are a part, is the oldest continuous city in the world. Filthy, unhygienic, possibly nauseating? Yes, but there are worse things humans could do, and do, in the West, that could be even more nauseating.

    Contrary to the misconception you may've formed from those pictures, the Ganges is not filled with dead bodies floating down the river. They are an exception, and there are possibly six dead bodies floating down the river at any one time. In contrast, the Italian mafia dumps about six dead bodies a month in the Warkill river, New Jersey every week. And we've heard stories of dead babies being dumped in Chinese rivers. We've no pictures to gross you out, though.

    Many of those images are more than a few years old, and an elaborate plan to clean the Ganges is already underway. In contrast, I can show you pictures of Chinese rivers that are filled with sewage and waste, and that could make you puke. Wanna try me?

    I feel it absurd, that the Chinese would bring such a thing up in their indignance to make fun of Indians. When they eat everything that crawls and fvcks. Drop the vehemence, please.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  17. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, I can fully understand how do you feel when you see those picuture...and I also know that all that are shown in the pictures might just a strip of Ganges..

    However, it is true that 90% of CHinese who have been to India have a quite poor impression on the democracy of India.
     
  18. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    I would've had the same impression had I been to China in the '90's. Filthy, polluted rivers, housing properties being confiscated, shanty towns barricaded, migrant workers living in the most filthy of conditions etc. etc. etc.

    Much of these, in fact, still exist. So, the moral high ground is unwarranted.

    Don't forget, you have a 13-yr head start on us. Give things time.
     
  19. niharjhatn

    niharjhatn Regular Member

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    And of the chinese that visit India, 99.8%* of Indians have a poor impression of those chinese. True, objective, factual source!
    (* +/- 0.2% error).

    Kids can do this all day.

    BTW check this out:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/m741732578726102/

    Re: ganges water. I had to critique an article once, and I bumped into this. Pretty interesting, nah?
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    To be frank, I would not be surprised even if 100% Chinese have a poor impression of India, let alone of the democracy in India.

    But, the interesting part is that India is not a Chinese colony (notwithstanding the attempt at expansionism) for Indians to worry about what the Chinese think about India. Yet, a penny for your thought!

    Further, democracy cannot be understood or appreciated by people who have totalitarianism as embodied by the CCP, shaped by a person like Mao, who to achieve his aim could butcher his own people as he did in the Cultural Revolution or destroy books that contained rich references of Chinese history, culture and philosophy. And the best part he was applauded for this butchery and State sponsored vandalism!
    But then, such conditioned robotic people that the Chinese are, that even before Mao's bones were interned, they, the Chinese people, under the new dispensation's orders, worked astutely to overturn whatever Mao stood for and worked for during his whole life and which you all thought were golden days!

    Therefore, it is obvious that those who have no mind of their own and responded like Pavlov's conditioned dogs* cannot appreciate anything which their mind is not conditioned to appreciate.

    (*For his original work in this field of research, Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904. By then he had turned to studying the laws on the formation of conditioned reflexes, a topic on which he worked until his death in 1936. Over time, when the dogs had become accustomed to hearing a certain sound prior to eating they would begin to salivate on cue. This is commonly referred to as behavioural conditioning, but Pavlov called the term conditional reflex. The concept of conditioning was key to the growing psychological field of behaviourism.)

    Yes, the Ganges is not clean, it has effluents and even some places have dead bodies floating. But then these dead bodies are because of Hindu cremation custom and the poor cannot burn the complete body since wood is expensive. Hence, they (the poor) sometimes consign the body after some ritual burning into the lap of 'Mother Ganges', which is said to purify every thing. I agree the rational mind would debunk such religiosity, but then religion in India is a very sacred thing that cannot be wished away. You will not understand religion since historically, you had NO formal religion of your own and then borrowed an Indian religion i.e. Buddhism, to later wipe that out to embrace the Godless belief of Mao's Communism, which you have now discarded and are neither here nor there!

    To jiggle your memory, I would like to add the Sidhartha (Buddha) was born in Nepal, but he achieved the Sublime at Gaya (India).

    Here is something that China does:


     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Fishing for bodies on China's Yellow River

    [video]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11813990[/video]

    Watch this video to observe how bodies are consigned to the Yellow River and people make a living by fishing them out to feed their families.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010

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