- Apr 17, 2009
China's governance hinges on their theory of 'stability and harmony'.SYSTEMS CLASH
There was always a question mark over China's commitment to the 'one country, two systems' formula for Hong Kong. The current turmoil in the former British colony shows that large sections of the people there are increasingly suspicious of Beijing's plans for governing it. It started as an angry reaction to the 'white paper' on Hong Kong that Beijing released in June. "The high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong," the document says, "is subject to the central government's authorization." It so alarmed pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong that they threatened to shut the city with an 'Occupy Central' programme. The document, they fear, is the death warrant of the rule of law and the freedoms that they enjoyed and that the people in the Chinese mainland are denied. The white paper's reiteration that Beijing has "complete jurisdiction" over the territory is also seen as a warning to pro-democracy groups. All this has come in the midst of a popular demand that the people be allowed to directly elect Hong Kong's chief executive in the next elections due in 2017. At present, the chief executive is elected by the territory's legislature only from a panel of candidates chosen by Beijing.
How he handles the situation in Hong Kong will be a crucial test for Xi Jinping, China's new leader. While he has moved faster on further liberalizing the economy, Mr Xi has shown no love for democratic politics. Beijing's responses so far to issues relating to Hong Kong also suggest a hard approach. It is no secret that last weekend's protests against the 'Occupy Central' programme had been stage-managed by Beijing. But Beijing cannot afford to let the situation in Hong Kong get out of its control. A continuing crisis in Hong Kong can damage its reputation as a major international financial centre. The blame for that will rest more with Beijing than with the pro-democracy groups. It is unlikely that Mr Xi will use a strategy in Hong Kong that will hurt China's vital economic interests. At the same time, China's image will be battered if it tramples on Hong Kong's democracy stir. Beijing has too many problems with its neighbours, such as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, to want fresh troubles at home. What it does in Hong Kong may also have an impact on Beijing's ties with Taiwan. But most important, the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong will inspire dissenters in the Chinese mainland.
To that aim, China goes to all limits to ensure it.
However, the 'one country, two systems' formula is charged with contradictions that is leading to disharmony and chaos. This is dangerous for China, more so, if the same spreads to other parts of China where affluence is rampant.
There is a feeling that the industrious South is burdened by the 'unproductive North'.
And the feeling of one Chinese, randomly picked:Cultural Divide in China
Before coming to China I, like most of my friends and relatives back in the United States, assumed it was one huge, homogenous chunk of land where everyone spoke "Chinese," looked "Chinese," and shared a common culture and history.
Living on-and-off in China since 2007 and traveling throughout much of the country, I can resolutely say that notion is false. Just like in the United States, each geographic region of Chinais distinct with its own cuisine, culture and in many cases, dialect. Although an overwhelming majority of people, close to 92 percent according to government statistics, are Han Chinese, there are 55 other ethnic groups. Some, like the Uygurs in the extreme northwest, look nothing like the image of the "typical" Chinese person that was burned into my mind before coming.
Now, having just traveled to Guangzhou and Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province, I've become aware of another division that shares a parallel with the United States—the distinction between north and south China.
In my experience, if you ask a Chinese northerner, generally north of the Yangtze River, the difference between the north and south, they'll tell you that southerners are more interested in earning money and less interested in politics. They eat rice instead of noodles and steamed buns, don't dine on jiaozi (dumplings) during the Spring Festival, and are generally darker-skinned.
Of course, if you ask a southerner about the north, they're likely to say that northern folk are taller, stronger, and eat heartier food, but are a tad less "cultured." When I asked my Cantonese friend to elaborate on this last point, she cracked a smile and explained that you'd rarely see a southerner "spit on the street" and that they speak softly whereas northerners tend to speak in a forced, blunt tone that makes them sound like they're perpetually angry.
In Guangdong Province, the heart of China's Cantonese culture, I experienced the south at its apex while in Beijing and the northeast I did the same with the north.
Just like in the United States, each region has a rich heritage and culture. In southern states back home, you're likely to hear voices flavored with a Dixie accent and will probably see a confederate flag or two, a remnant of an era that came and went.
In China, I've found that the stereotypes of north and south are, by-and-large, spot on. Like the culture as a whole, southern cuisineis carefully prepared, subtly spiced and neatly served. In the north, food is blasted with flavor and sauce and often served on huge, heaping platters. At southern morning teas, the pace is relaxed and the service slow. The goal is to unwind and relax, a luxury that is often overlooked in the north, I've found.
It's tough to say which culture I like better, but because I've spent most of my time in Beijing, I've become more familiar with and comfortable around northern culture. Still, the warm, subtle south remains alluring.
What's most important is for an outsider to understand that China, like the United States, is far from a homogenous country. Geographic and cultural divisions, north-south included, contribute to making the country a diverse and fascinating whole.
The author is an American living in Beijing
Cultural Divide in China -- Beijing Review
I am really fed up. This happened in another forum. I keep encountering Northerners who claim that Southern Chinese are not really Han Chinese e.g. Cantonese.
This is so offensive especially when you consider that Northerners are not pure Huaxia themselves anyway. In fact, we're all mixed but they keep trying to look down on us. <_<
If Southern Chinese are not really Chinese, then maybe PRC should let go of HK(Cantonese) and let Taiwan(Hoklo) become independent. Plus let Guangdong province become autonomous or something...(Note I'm not suggesting all this but some Northerners despise us so much...Can't have your cake and eat it too if you want us to stand with you...)
If there are Northerners out there who think of us as fellow Chinese, pls speak up. I don't want to think all Northerners are like that....all obsessed with blood and purity and stuff...
Northerner claims Cantonese are not Han Chinese - Culture Shock! - AFspot Forum