Sunday, September 30, 2007

China (III)

I do not write about politics, since I could never be as good as some other people who do. A link to fellow theorist Bernard Chazelle, and the captivating essays on his webpage, is in order. (I hesitated posting a link not because I disagree with some of his arguments, which indeed I do, but because you will probably get distracted and not read the rest of my post... But render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, I already said there are many people who write better than me.)

So, I did go to China, and I am back, and now I feel compelled to write a few words.

My friends in Romania ask me how the Chinese can stand their government, and why they are not fighting. Of course, the obvious guess on everybody's lips is panem et circenses -- the Chinese economy has been making strides forward, which allowed the government to keep citizens happy.

But another reason that cannot be ignored lies in the remarkable efficiency of Chinese propaganda among its citizens. A prime accomplishment of the communist machine is the fact that political discussion is so touchy among Chinese inteligentia in the US. The party has managed to convince even truly brilliant people that the state is the party and the party is the state. Then, if somebody challenges Chinese communism, they are attacking the Chinese patriotic sentiment. Love of the Vaterland becomes a shield of the regime.

Indeed, they are careful and proactive about propaganda. In the new age of communication, they have set up the world's best known firewall to keep the citizens away from subversive information. A non-technical person will not be able to get to Wikipedia, or to blogspot, or to any "unofficial" description of Tiananmen 1989, and will not be able to use encryption (ssh).

In fact, brainwashing and censorship were such a durable and effective efforts, that it became hard to get censors! A censor recently let a reference to Tiannmen be published because she thought June 4, 1989 was a mining disaster [Reuters].

Tiananmen has become the place where "On this spot in 1989, nothing happened".

Yet despite the brainwashing, there are those who are fighting (and currently losing). Taiwan's situation is constantly becoming worse, since every dollar that the booming Chinese economy earns is another dollar behind the economic blackmail in the One China policy. With Burkina Faso as the largest country to officially recognize Taiwan, their backing sadly reminds us of the grand Coalition of the Willing.

Inside the People's Republic, a cultural fight is led. In good Soviet tradition, the Party's policy was: grab as much land and people as possible, and rebrand everything as Chinese. (Han Chinese, of course.)

Tibet and Xinjiang are just about as Chinese as Finland. But in the past half-century, the Party has managed to bring 7 million or so Han into Xinjiang, a land populated by Turkic people (Uyghur and Kazakhs). This raised the percentage of Han from zeroish to 40%, and will soon make Xinjiang "Chinese", a feat that would have made the Father of Nations, Joseph Stalin, exceedingly proud.

As for Tibet, it may not even be needed to resort to ethnic invasion. Here is the simple story. The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama assure a continuity in Tibetan spiritual leadership. When one dies, the other searches for a reincarnation, and "takes care of business," while the young boy found to be the reincarnation grows up, and is educated to be a great Lama. When Panchen Lama died, the Dalai Lama (from exile in India) selected a new Panchen Lama in communication with a search commitee wandering across Tibet.

In 1995, the young boy became a political prisoner at the unlikely age of 6, and he has not been seen since. In its infinite wisdom and understanding of Tibetan culture, the Party chose the next Panchen Lama, and took the boy to Beijing. From there, he has been making periodic statements about the great freedom of religion enjoyed by the Chinese people living in Tibet.

Now, when the Dalai Lama dies, can anyone guess on what criteria the Panchen Lama (Beijing version) will select a reincarnation?

In the mean time, any attempt to cross into India and communicate with the Dalai Lama is a treason to the Chinese state. Here is a ghastly piece of footage caught by a Romanian cameraman while climbing in the Himalayas (which pedictably won some accolades at the Emmy Awards this year).

It shows a Chinese border patrol executing Tibetans who are trying to cross the mountain. Via the New York Times, we learn that China acknowledged the incident, and justified it as self-defense after the monks tried to attack the soldiers.


Anonymous said...

Good. Without reading your post,
I will never know that chinese government is so capable at
irritating people
from second-tier country like

Mihai said...

At some point Romania was officially a 3rd world country. I can only be happy that we are now called 2nd tier in a derogatory tone :)

Anonymous said...

Why do you care about what goes on in China? I am genuinely asking b/c China is not the only place with problems, yet i cannot figure out why you should care about it more than other places. You don't live there; or from there. And US (or Romania) isn't doing anything bad to China (at least seemingly) to cause some guilt or whatever. Is the source of your compassion simply your trip?

Mihai said...

Anonymous 2: Certainly China is not the only place with problems, and it is not doing me any direct harm.

As you conjecture, I only wrote about China because I recently travelled there.

Anonymous said...

A government's job is
1) throw money at its citizens
to make them happy.
2) Keep the territory and enlarge
it if possible.
3) Make foreigners who
donot like 1) and 2) unhappy.
From your post, I see that Chinese
government is doing well at all
of them ( which is
a little off from what I heard.) So people from
third tier country like Romania
will fight again chinese government,
but those Han chinese will not, right?

Mihai said...

Anonymous, by your definition Stalin and Hitler led wonderful governments. I wish you what you wish upon yourself: may you spend your life under the rule of such governments.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mihai,
Thank you for your post. As a Chinese, I have to defense my country a little bit. The world is not like a star war: with pure evil antagonists. Most chinese people are not "brainwashed" as you believed to think the communism party as their savior, or the representation of the whole nation, although we do believe that communism party represents the current government of China somehow. However, your simple hatred towards communism shows another direction of brainwash and propaganda. As a scientist, nothing should be taken for granted: such as communism is just pure evil, needless to prove, so is Hitler. Chinese people are OK with Chinese government, because it works right now, though as you mentioned, there are a lot of problems to solve. China has a long way to go. But in all, from a Chinese commoner's humble experience, China is not as pathatic as described in your post. I think it's an ideological issue. If you really have problem with communism, then do not call us communism country. You can see us as a problematic version of captalism, or WesternPeoplePleaseStopeHatingUs-ism. Then maybe you will find those problems as screw-ups of a immature (or sometimes stupid and inefficient) government, rather than evil plots from an omnisent big brother. Maybe in this way, chinese government is more acceptable to you, just as the whole world adores the retarded Bush.

A nice person should not blame others just because of their problems or weakness, at least not in eastern culture. What you mentioned in your post are our problems. As a Chinese commoner, I really want them solved peacefully in recent future. I'd like to see progrss, and indeed we saw some in recent years. Improving lives of 1.6 billion people is a enormously huge project, and we need to be patient. Compare to 1.6 billion people's lives and several thousands years history, to be or not to be communism in recent 50 years is really a meaninglessly small thing, and not worth to risk people's lives for it.

The above are my humble defense of my beloved country, all from my personal experience. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

60 years ago in China culture revolution, most Chinese believed western people were brainwashed and living in a miserable life.

Since 30 years ago, most chinese have opened eyes and walked out to the rest of world and understood more about the people outside China. Today most chinese knew how to access to ANY infomation in the world regardless what goverment doing. MOST of Chinese web surfer knows how to use proxy crossing the firewall.

In contrast, even today, most of those "free-world" people do not know how to cross firewall, who never accessed the infomation in China, sole rely on "subjective" reports from western media, are still believing Chinese are brainwashed and living in a miserable life ....

Living in the U.S. for more than 2 decades, I withness that so many "free-world" people who never access two-side infomation are still believing those who accessed two-side info for decades are brain-washed.

The world is so ironic.