Sticks and Stones

Editorial on a recent criticism of the Olympics in a foreign newspaper and the Party’s response to it. I’m not supportive of calls to boycott the Olympics, or even using the Olympics to call attention to China’s internal or human rights problems. Of course these things should be criticized, but the Olympics is only a convenient place to do it, not the best way to do it. I won’t say I’d wish it this way to preserve the sanctity of the Games, that’s silly and history doesn’t bear out that ideal. Rather, by holding back now, a ton of headaches will be averted in the future. I can imagine that were there some big embarrassment at an Olympics in the States (e.g. anti-war protests), the affair would be shrugged off in a matter of months. If the same thing were to happen in China, it will go down in the history books as the Great Olympic Insult and will be taught to schoolchildren for decades. If there’s one thing Chinese government has been good at it’s maintaining a sense of indignation for past events, well after the fact. Is it presently relevant that the 八国军 (Eight Nation Army) sacked Beijing and destroyed the original Summer Palace well over a century ago? You’d think it might be from what you read in the history books here.

Maybe I just don’t want to hear anything about it in the future. Anyway, from the March 23rd, 2008 editorial section of the Southern Weekend, by Cao Xin.

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Who Does a Single Newspaper Represent Anyway?

England’s “The Times” compared the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Olympics of Hitler’s Germany, and several days ago a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the claim. He said that by placing the Beijing Olympics on par with Germany’s 1936 Olympics, this paper was insulting the Chinese people, and in fact insulting all the peoples of the world. The Olympic flame symbolizes humanity’s fine aspirations and pursuits, and it also illuminates the darkness and baseness of a people’s mentality, allowing the entire world to clearly see their true face.

Gemeilian (sorry, don’t know the English equiv.), the news attaché of Germany’s embassy in Beijing, explained to a Southern Weekend reporter that the reason why Germany’s 1936 Olympics continues to be widely criticized is that this was the first time in Olympic history that Hitler’s regime used large scale means to show off the successes of Hitler’s political power and Nazi nationalism. They turned the Olympics into a propaganda platform. The reporter asked, “But doesn’t every country use the Olympics as a chance to put forward a good face to the world? Isn’t this normal?” Gemeilian answered, “Using the Olympics to promote and exhibit oneself is normal, but here the problem was Hitler. He used the Olympics to display the accomplishments of Nazi nationalism and the Fascist regime.”

China has never spread a doctrine of Chinese national or racial superiority throughout the world. The successes of China’s 30 years of reform and opening have been affirmed by the entire world, and is currently making great and positive contributions to the world economy. Comparing these two Olympic Games like this, is it really necessary to denounce this?

Actually, from the point of view of Western or civic society, who does a single newspaper represent? It can only represent itself. It might want to stir something up, but there’s no need to let it stir anything up. When the Foreign Ministry spokesperson made their denouncement, objectively they simply advertised for this media outlet, and that is just what they’d want.

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Hallmark Card

Editorial from the Southern Weekend, March 27th, 2008. About the recent election in Taiwan. I think the PRC might be a little excited about it. Written by one Shi Zhe.

Great Firewall cuts off international Google searches for Taiwan’s 民进党 (Democratic Progressive Party). Other search engines are okay. Search for 龙应台 produces the same effect, though not in English.

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Well Wishes for the Taiwanese, Well Wishes for All Chinese

On that night, Taiwan’s 36,000 square kilometers and 23 million people welcomed a new turn of history’s wheel.

Some were uplifted to the heavens, some were thrown into the abyss, but together 23 million hearts beat rhythmically in unison. Wild with joy and mournful, excited and distressed…there was still that swath of blue, that swath of green, still the clear distinction of rival camps. But this time, after the curtain went down, no more harsh words were exchanged, there were hardly any collisions on the streets, none of the usual backthrusts of politicians, and even the most nervous characters of this drama felt a little “disappointment”.

Well, let the politicians be disappointed. After having been through the disillusionment of dreams, strenuous struggles, eight years of expectations, this is undoubtedly the best consolation and gift for the majority of Taiwan’s people.

In these eight years, the intrigues of politicians have torn apart popular sentiment, and have broken the goodness at the bottom of people’s hearts. Now “goodbyes” can be said and there don’t even need to be any more reasons given. Despicable politicians haven’t answered the hopes and longings of this land. Perhaps the Taiwanese could accept the end of an economic boom and a faltering economy. The DPP government has blamed a “Guomindang inheritance”, has blamed “mainland pressure”, has blamed “globalization”, but they haven’t been thoroughly self-critical. The Taiwanese could even accept for a time the the DPP’s corruption and lack of scruples. After all, in a Taiwan where corruption was in vogue and a legal system was still being constructed, the enticements of power were great, and for a political party that never considered “pastries falling from the sky” it was even more so the case. But they were not able to endure the politicians wantonly trying their patience and taking advantage of their leniency. They were not able to endure the shamelessness of those political characters, their irresponsible remarks, the damning of fathers and mothers that left teachers unable to instruct their students, and parents unable to raise their children. So Long Yingtai can shout from her heart, entreating “give Taiwan a politician!”

But perhaps all of this will no longer be a part of Taiwan’s stupor, because Taiwan can itself take hold of its own fate, and can use its own wisdom and bravery to win a possible future for itself.

Casting aside ethnic divides, casting aside political machinations, and casting aside corruption, the Taiwanese masses have chosen economic development, have chosen the people’s happiness, and have thrown in their votes in favor of a path of redemption. Wu Boxiong, the Guomindang Chairman, once emotionally said, “After 20 or 30 years, everyone will be able to say to their grandchildren with pride, in 2008 Taiwan was saved, and I was a part of it.”

In fact, they’ve not only saved their own future, but perhaps that of the entire Chinese race. Without any coercion, and with full awareness they expressed their own desires for peace. And although for the time being, they cannot identify with the mainland’s appeal for “unification”, they have shown that they don’t war, and they desire to develop with the mainland, together. This, I believe the Chinese on this side of the strait will be able to understand.

Actually, the majority of us understand that Taiwan’s economic prosperity is inseparable from the larger environment of mainland development; and the continuation of the Chinese mainland’s progress and rise is also inseparable from a united, stable, and prosperous Taiwan. After facing off for 13 years, the two shores may be able to throw off the vexations of the “virtual” agenda of Taiwanese independence. And though in the short term it is not certain that there will be any substantive developments, an ice-breaking glimmer of hope has already come about. At a journalists reception on May 23rd, Ma Yingjiu announced a series of mainland policies, like opening the airline industry by degrees, opening up to visiting tourists from the mainland, restarting the functions of sea-based and maritime organizations, and even welcoming pandas to Taiwan, etc., that made the future clear. On Monday, the mainland’s Three Prongs Concept was received as a bright ray of sunlight, and Taiwan’s 200 plus stocks rose after opening, which is yet another hint of the future.

The Taiwanese masses deserve to be proud of themselves. They have paid a great price, having spontaneously developed a modern democracy from a Chinese political culture devoid of a democratic tradition. Although even after the initial indecision and indecisiveness Taiwanese democracy was faulty, now in the second rotation of political parties the Taiwanese masses have shown proof of rationality. They are now growing into reasonable “public citizens”. After this, Taiwan’s internal political environment will be one that Chinese society has never seen before in history.

But more importantly, the “Two Shores Three Lands” Chinese’s current development of democracy is the arrival at a high point of one of humanity’s common values. At the CCP’s 17th People’s Congress, the mainland put forward that the “development of socialist democratic politics is our party’s steadfast target of struggle”, moreover the people’s democracy is seen as “the vitality of Socialism”. This clearly shows how the Communist Party cherishes democracy, and how it is determined to develop democratic politics. And in Hong Kong, the realization of this has already entered the timetable with direct elections to be held in 2017.

Sun Zhongshan once said, “Democratic politics is vast and mighty force, those who go with it will flourish, and those who go against it will perish.” The Chinese race, despite having been through many errors of fate, will finally stand at the crest of history, and what good fortune this is.

So we wish luck to the Taiwanese people, and wish luck to all Chinese!


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Might just be some good old fashioned turn of the century American political correctness, but the race angle creeps me out.

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Next Top Model

Editorial from the Global Times, about modeling China on America, written by one Ding Xueliang. I think it’s pretty good advice.

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America Shouldn’t Be China’s Only Model

At the beginning of the Reform and Opening, China’s model wasn’t the United States, it was instead smaller countries in the socialist camp, like Yugoslavia and Hungary. China began to study the United States, most importantly due to a saying of Deng Xiaoping, who thought that carrying out Opening policies would first require opening up to America. If China didn’t open up towards America, than opening up towards any other country would not have any great effect.

But to take an extreme attitude because of this is a mistake. During reform, if China were to lock in America as the only source to study from, it wouldn’t be appropriate.

If China’s development needs to look for a model, then it certainly needs a multifaceted one. Even if the first model we chose was correct, we still cannot make it the only model we’ll ever study from. At the beginning of the second half of the last century, we studied the Soviet Union from top to bottom, but as soon as it went to an extreme, completely mimicking the Soviet Union’s model, the negative effects surpassed any gains.

Even in studying America we have to consider the relevance of the American model to China’s national situation. At the beginning Japan studied Europe, founding the nation on clear decisions. For the navy they followed England’s example, for the army it was Germany, the university system imitates England’s, and the primary and secondary schooling system was taken from France. It is worth it for us to study this type of model-selection.

No country can become China’s only model. For a certain period a certain target might have priority, but we cannot remove others from our field of vision. Once a mistake occurs, the price of reversing course will be high.

(From the paper–this was not an editorial on the news, but was rather a commentary on China’s current situation, and it caused great interest among people. The article mentioned a great many detailed examples, like Holland having 340 people per square kilometer, and then there’s Belgium, and Luxembourg….The populations of these countries are crowded, but the national infrastructure still makes it seem that whether driving or walking the feeling is completely natural; and consider why the great car manufacturer Germany would want to build a high speed railway system, etc. You can say that these are all deeply felt pains of ours. Every year we send out a great many officials, spending great amounts of money to go overseas for training. We should be reminded from this article that we don’t want to spend that much money in vain.)

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Some good phrases:
- 把。。。从视野里排除掉—removing ….. from field of vision
- 自上而下— (lit. from the top and then bottom) from top to bottom.
- 豁然开朗—(lit. clearly that way become open bright) suddenly see the light, or suddenly become extensive
- 天人合一— (lit. Sky People Together One) man and nature perfectly together
- 切肤之痛 — (lit. pain of cutting skin)keenly felt pain

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School of Hard Knocks

Small article from ynet.com’s legal section. It’s sort of a Dear Abby about corporal punishment in schools. Speaking to Japanese, Korean, and Chinese friends, the situation with physical punishment in East Asian schools is similar to that in America–namely, it on the whole doesn’t exist anymore. Mostly because of complaints from parents and legal issues. But I don’t know what the teacher in this article did exactly.

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Corporal Punishment Led Student to Illness, Should the School Bear Full Responsibility?

Ming is an elementary school’s fourth grader who was punished for an hour by Liu Mou, a physical education teacher, for being unruly during class. Afterwards Ming became psychologically depressed, and was evaluated as schizophrenic by a legal medical expert . Ming’s parents went to the school demanding that it bear responsibility for compensation. Is this reasonable?

Ni Changli, lawyer, responds: If, after going through a hearing and investigation by the people’s court, it is determined that there exists a necessary causal relationship between Ming’s schizophrenia and the teacher’s corporal punishment, then the school should bear the responsibility of compensation. Objectively speaking, there could be a certain relationship between Ming’s ailment and his personality, the pressures of studying, and the parents’ methods of discipline, etc. The teacher’s punishment was only one factor, and the school should bear a certain proportion of the responsibility.

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I wonder how it turned out, and what “proportion of responsibility” there is for pushing a borderline schizophrenic, if such was the case, over the edge?

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Hard Seat

I brought an old newspaper (Jan 18, 2007) to read back to front during my break in the States. I found a very interesting editorial about the Chinese rail system and Chinese behavior in the train stations and on the train. I should spend more time reading these editorials rather than dwelling on the international section. Written by a guy named Chang Ping down in Guangzhou.

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Distrusted Trains Bring Tragedy

My own experience tells me that in chaotically managed train stations, and on the distrusted trains, civilized people can also become uncivilized.

On January 13th, at the Wuhu Train Station (Anhui Province), after a female college student was crowded off the train platform, she was crushed in half by a train that had not yet stopped. Most Chinese are able to imagine that type of frenzied crowding, and they can all believe that this wasn’t an especially unbelievable accident. The next day, at the Changsha Train Station, over a hundred ticket-holding university students were thrown off the train and left ignored in the wintry wind. After the matter the railroad explained that it happened because the train was overcapacity, but there wasn’t even a single sentence of apology. (From yesterday’s “Guangzhou Daily”) That last affair is really the explanation for the first tragedy as well, which is simply that the railroad enterprise’s service is weakening people’s confidence in it.

On the internet many people discuss the quality of our citizens. They think that unfortunate female college student was killed by passengers of low quality (素质,in Chinese this “quality” refers to a person’s all-around character, if they have “quality” they have integrity, act civilized, and are generally worthy people), passengers who don’t understand how to line up in a civilized manner. But this is missing the point. First of all, even if a problem exists with the passengers’ quality, it wasn’t inborn, it was brought about by society and especially by the oversights in railroad service. Secondly, these same people, if they were to travel by plane, are unlikely to act the same way in the departure lounge.

The airline companies’ service also has many problems, but there is still a basic lower limit to it, and most passengers know this. If a ticket is bought it means they can get on the plane. If they are unable to board because the plane is overweight, airline companies at the very least have to explain, apologize, make a transfer, or even provide compensation. Whether it’s a plane ticket or a train ticket, it’s just a paper contract, it’s the carrier’s promise of conveyance and service. But if there isn’t even that basic promise of conveyance, then why have to buy a ticket? What’s absurd is that the affair at the Changsha Train Station shows that passengers didn’t receive this sort of promise from the Department of Railway Transport. They knew that only having a ticket wasn’t enough, they still had to run and push, otherwise they might not be able to board the train, and even then, if they got on the train they might be forced off. In this type of situation, can one hold such high expectations for the quality of our citizens?

Don’t consider this to be only a special accident due to the increased Spring Festival rail traffic (春运 - literally “spring transport” is the special Chinese term for the huge increase in railway passengers that occurs during the Spring Festival, the biggest holiday of the year), a few railroad enterprises’ services are consistently slack. I myself, because of a slight fear of heights, like to choose to ride by train for business trips or for traveling. I’ve never been through the Spring Festival jostle, and almost never traveled during the “golden vacation period”, but in the train station I frequently swear that the next time I will definitely suffer through the plane ride. Last summer I was at the Changsha Train Station, and right upon entering the waiting room that arid heat, the filthiness, the stench and the clamor, it was enough to make me nauseous. The train was delayed, but there wasn’t any notification. In front of the ticket-checking station there was a long and abnormally crowded line. I went to the fee-collecting so-called “VIP Waiting Room” (actually it’s just separate thoroughfare that allows one to board the train ahead of time, and is also unavoidably crowded), but the attendants attitude was poor, and I was so angry I went back to the other waiting room. Upon arriving at the back of the long line, I stood there for a while until discovering that it was already the ticket-checking line for another train, and the one I wanted had already quietly left. At this point you cannot count on having anyone come and help you, you can just go to the ticket hall and return your ticket for half price. If you want to ask anything more, the ticket attendant won’t bother with you. In this type of environment, can you refuse a little crowding?

I’ve ridden European and American trains many times, and I have no choice but to “worship foreign things” (崇洋媚外 - literally ‘worship ocean fawn on outside’, that ocean is also carries connotations of the West, a pretty cool chengyu all in all I think) and pledge to you that it absolutely is a treat. You don’t have to worry about people carrying a megaphone and shouting at you, you don’t have to worry about people forcing you off the train, you don’t have to worry about people selling fake or poor quality goods on the train, you don’t have to worry if the dining car’s food is expensive and unpalatable. You can choose different companies, nitpicking over their service’s quality, the train schedule and travel quality. You can go so far as to refuse a certain company because you don’t like their ads or symbol. In this kind of environment, why bother doing any frenzied crowding? Unless of course you’re doing some sort of behavioral art, to sympathize with and in support of China’s passengers.

My own experience has told me that in a chaotically managed train station, on a distrusted train, civilized people can become uncivilized. In in this sense, poor railroad service to a certain degree actually is a “degenerating machine” of our citizens’ quality.

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I liked this article, it gave me a better perspective of the situation, although I’ve never actually ridden on trains in China where I’ve seen people kicked off. Unbelievably crowded, yes, but never to the point where I’ve not had my ticket honored. I would believe that it happens at some times and places though. Now if someone would just write one about the crowding and line cutting at the post office and cafeteria.

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Mooninites

Here’s a short article I’m reading for my Newspaper class, it’s about some good old-fashioned American moon exploration.

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America’s New Lunar Exploration Plans Will “Dissect” the Moon

- Two satellites will survey the moon while orbiting, in order to explore its internal structure and history of evolution.

Xinhua Press.
America’s NASA made a new press release on the 11th, stating that the United States will be putting a new lunar exploration project into effect, the objective being to survey the moon’s internal structure and evolutionary history.

- The probe is expected to launch in 2011

The full name of the new lunar exploration project is “Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory”, according to the English words the abbreviated name is GRAIL. NASA says that the entire project is estimated to cost about U.S. $375 million, and the probe is expected to lift off into space in 2011, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory responsible for managing and running the project.
The official release says that the GRAIL project will employ a twin satellite-probe system. After the two satellite-probes separate one will follow behind the other in lunar orbit for several months of flight, and will measure the moons gravity field with an “unprecedented degree of accuracy”. According to the gravity field information, scientists will be able to thoroughly analyze the moon from crust to core, revealing the moon’s surface and subterranean structure, and thus will obtain second hand information about the lunar interior’s thermal evolutionary history.
NASA says that the GRAIL project’s survey data will also help answer a few long-standing and difficult questions about the moon, and will give scientists a better understanding of the earth and even provide new hints about the formation of the solar system’s other rocky planets.
NASA’s assistant administrator responsible for scientific surveys, 艾伦-斯特恩(Allen Stein?), said that they will use innovative technologies from earth surveys in the lunar survey field, and that this is only the first step, and they will attempt to use them in the surveys of Mars or other planets.

- A foreshadowing of a “return to the moon”

According to the United States’ “New Space Exploration Plan”, Americans will “return to the moon” before 2020. Prior to this, NASA already has plans to launch a “Lunar Survey Orbital Flyer” in 2008, which will circle the moon for a year in the least, and which will mainly carry out choosing landing locations and other such activities for the America’s successive manned and unmanned lunar exploration projects. The GRAIL project will be a project foreshadowing the American “return to the moon”.

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Recently my Newspaper teacher made some offhand remark about not being so trusting of American space technology, especially after the Challenger explosion (she might have been referring to the Columbia disaster, she only mentioned one, but didn’t attach a name or time). Which was one of the few times in class I’ve gotten a little peeved about something said about America. Anyway, I’ve since let it go. But talk about being ignorant.

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