This takes place around 1983, and to be honest his account of his country scares and intrigues me.
What is China like now? I still seem to know so little of it. Are the carriages on trains swimming in mucus? Do bad teeth abound?
I'd like to know if it has changed much culturally from 20 years ago and if so, is it for the better.
And other little titbits too please.
― Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:27 (sixteen years ago) link
― phil-two (phil-two), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:30 (sixteen years ago) link
― adam... (nordicskilla), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:31 (sixteen years ago) link
― kelsey (kelstarry), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:33 (sixteen years ago) link
― Emilymv (Emilymv), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:39 (sixteen years ago) link
A lot of what I read was completely mind-boggling - makes me wonder why Ma Jian wasn't as scared to act as everybody else seemed to be.
Is there still a lot of propaganda going on in the country?
― Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:39 (sixteen years ago) link
― lukey (Lukey G), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:46 (sixteen years ago) link
― kelsey (kelstarry), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:48 (sixteen years ago) link
― gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:49 (sixteen years ago) link
Shanxi - Twinned with Glasgow!
― Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:53 (sixteen years ago) link
― kelsey (kelstarry), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:55 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:56 (sixteen years ago) link
― kelsey (kelstarry), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 16:59 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rumpy Pumpkin (rumpypumpkin), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 17:17 (sixteen years ago) link
― kelsey (kelstarry), Wednesday, 1 December 2004 17:26 (sixteen years ago) link
I have never understood how this policy works
I mean okay I understand how forced abortions work, but one child per couple - how is it that China's population hasn't contracted exponentially over the years?
― the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 21 October 2010 20:00 (ten years ago) link
jesus that is gruesome
― avoyoungdro's number (k3vin k.), Thursday, 21 October 2010 20:22 (ten years ago) link
What is China like now?
sobering and frightening.
― Daniel, Esq., Friday, 12 November 2010 00:51 (ten years ago) link
RIP protest bros ;_;
― dayo, Saturday, 4 June 2011 06:30 (nine years ago) link
― Mordy, Thursday, 22 March 2012 16:09 (eight years ago) link
I follow a bunch of chinese blogs and have heard nothing at all about tanks/gunfire in beijing
― dayo, Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:39 (eight years ago) link
― dayo, Thursday, 22 March 2012 17:43 (eight years ago) link
how is it that nobody on ilx is talking about this? i get that there's nothing beyond rumors but still!
― Mordy, Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:01 (eight years ago) link
there's been discussion in the rolling china thread about bo's ouster
idk I feel like we'd be hearing a lot more about this if it were true, the government censor's aren't actually that great at keeping things under wraps forever
― dayo, Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:04 (eight years ago) link
nonstory i think --- just one of many rumors floating thru around the chinese internet ---
― dylannn, Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:08 (eight years ago) link
but yes please visit us on the rolling China thread
― dylannn, Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:09 (eight years ago) link
like, beijing's expat population is not insubstantial. and there are a good number of foreign journalists in beijing. and not all of them live in sanlitun, far away from tiananmen.
― dayo, Thursday, 22 March 2012 19:10 (eight years ago) link
― dayo, Friday, 23 March 2012 12:18 (eight years ago) link
Wow, apparently the pollution is so terrible in Beijing they watch the sunrise on a TV. No joke:
― Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 18 January 2014 13:31 (seven years ago) link
well this is dystopian
― Mordy, Sunday, 23 October 2016 21:14 (four years ago) link
How did ILX get blocked by the Great Firewall here? Accessible again now but it seems pretty hit and miss these days. The whole thing seems pretty random.
― viborg, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 22:48 (four years ago) link
i blame dylannnnn
― 龜, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 23:04 (four years ago) link
― viborg, Wednesday, 14 December 2016 23:19 (four years ago) link
What did dylannnn do?
I was wondering the other day about how to accurately characterize modern Chinese government. Obviously not a democracy or a monarchy, and communist is a pretty sad misnomer what with the whole slave labor/private property/powerless workers + peasants combo. clearly totalitarian given the one-party rule, lack of elections, censorship, police state aspects but seems to be missing some of the key aspects of fascism (cult of personality, constant state of war, scapegoating of minorities/enemies). I figured someone more knowledgeable about Chinese culture/history around here might have some insight.
― Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 September 2017 19:28 (three years ago) link
ilx loads quickly and reliably in china and always has, for me!
― XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 10:40 (three years ago) link
i'm not the right person to pick apart how the chinese government works but i think the key to understanding it is complete but imperfect party control
total control economically, direct control of state owned enterprises to exerting influence over private firms through government policy (which can idle certain sectors or heat them up, government procurement policy, or regulate who can access the chinese market, like in the case of internet companies especially), taxes, having party members leading the firms or in positions of influence etc. over arts and culture and media through GAPP and SARFT and also just owning every single thing. over education. over every level of politics.
party control is maintained by violence and coercion but also by delivering on the promises of the party: stability, rising levels of wealth. there might not really be a cult of personality, constant state of war, scapegoating of minorities/enemies but the party beats the same nationalist drum, true and solemn protector of the chinese people. nationalism has always been part of the party's message but it seems to have intensified in the last half decade as they've mobilized the party's far left. you have 中华民族 zhonghua minzu, a term that means THE CHINESE RACE and goes back to fall of the qing and republican china at the turn of the last century but has recently been resurrected. so, like, the party is not only protecting the country from imperialist invaders but i think there's sort of a racial element to it, too--like, in a way. the party also inherits all the like glory or whatever of past empires and the chinese race, and sits at the end of a glorious march forward from 4000 b.c. to present. so there's weird nationalistic stuff that's common to other states in east asia (and elsewhere i guess). the party not only delivered the peasants from feudal landlords but also freed the chinese people from humiliation at the hands of europeans, and they've held strong.
but control is imperfect because the party itself is not a monolith and there are conflicts between factions within the party and especially at different levels of government (local governments have limited ability to create policy, so there's the constant problem of local governments ignoring or doing the opposite of what the party is telling them to do + it's hard to keep track of what the party is pushing from day to day).
― XxxxxxxXxxxxxxxxXxxxx (dylannn), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:18 (three years ago) link
I think if you want a short description, Authoritarian Nationalist State Capitalism does the job fairly well. In truth though, our vocabulary for types of government is stuck in the 20th century and badly needs updating, what would you call Singapore for example?
― mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 12:20 (three years ago) link
Another issue is that the CCP deliberately muddy their ideology in order to present themselves as a representative democracy / communist state / empire when it suits them, and to obscure the genuine power struggles taking place out of sight of the public.
― mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 12:23 (three years ago) link
Reviving this, because I really want to know more. Any good books or articles on Authoritarian Nationalist State Capitalism, kleptocracy, and the part it plays in the global economy?
― Frederik B, Friday, 22 September 2017 12:10 (three years ago) link
It's a description I just put together myself, so guess not really. But there are lots of books out there about how the CCP works or doesn't work. Actually it's an interesting time to ask this as a party insider has just fled the country to go to the USA and has been releasing YouTube videos daily where he talks at length about all the party secrets, infighting, conspiracies, etc. Not sure how much of it is true (he has so far offered no actual evidence) but everyone is either going nuts about it or making a show of sticking their fingers in their ears. Any mention of it is blocked in China of course.
― mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 22 September 2017 12:18 (three years ago) link
Do you have a link? I think what I'm specifically wondering is how authoritarian control of a capitalist economy warps the economic outcome, both on a national level - enormous building projects that offer great opportunities for corruption (Sochi, Chinese Ghost Cities), the long term need to limit wage growth - and on an international level - trade agreements, currency manipulation. And I don't really know enough to search for it. Something like this: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.hudson.org/files/publications/20161020JudahTheKleptocracyCurseRethinkingContainment.pdf But not for straight up kleptocracies, and preferably not from the Hudson Institute either...
― Frederik B, Friday, 22 September 2017 12:30 (three years ago) link
I don't think there is a consistent international model of authoritarian capitalism, or certainly any consistent outcomes, but looking at Lee Kuan Yew and how the Chinese / Russian models differ from the Singaporean one might be a starting point. I don't know whether there are any particularly good books about it but there were lots of articles along those lines when LKY died.
― Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 22 September 2017 12:37 (three years ago) link
Yes. A good starting point would be differing ANSC countries from straight up kleptocracies. And nobody but me has confused them either here, right? Or are there important distinctions between Singapore and China?
― Frederik B, Friday, 22 September 2017 12:40 (three years ago) link
If you have links to those articles it would be greatly appreciated, but otherwise I'll search for them later.
― Frederik B, Friday, 22 September 2017 12:41 (three years ago) link
Frederik B - The guy's name is Guo Wengui, you can find so many of his videos on YouTube, warning you that it's the most rabbit holey of all rabbit holes to go down. Also everything he is saying may be not true. For example he claims MH370 was downed as part of inner CCP conflict, which sounds insane put on its own like that. Here is one of his videos, not expecting anyone to watch it all.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qIL9GhPcmA
― mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 22 September 2017 14:08 (three years ago) link
In China, a Three-Digit Score Could Dictate Your Place in Society
― Lyudmila Pavlichenko (dandydonweiner), Thursday, 28 December 2017 20:09 (three years ago) link
― El Tomboto, Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:09 (three years ago) link
Are you and I the only ones who regularly panic about this kind of thing?
― Lyudmila Pavlichenko (dandydonweiner), Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:11 (three years ago) link
It's a depressing read (kudos to the writer refraining from a Black Mirror ref). Wouldn't say I panic about it but def hate the way this is going. Notice I'm becoming a minority still paying for lots of things with cash. Not that it matters a lot I suppose, the system will bend us in whatever way it wants.
― ♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:21 (three years ago) link
Compare and contrast with the GDPR implementation though
― El Tomboto, Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:35 (three years ago) link
i used wechat pay this month when i was in china. it was incredibly convenient and i wish the american payment system wasn't so stupid and backwards
― 龜, Thursday, 28 December 2017 23:34 (three years ago) link
Would you care to explain?
― Random Shitposter (calstars), Friday, 29 December 2017 01:04 (three years ago) link
wechat pay is linked to your bank account and/or credit cards. every user has a personal QR code + can scan other people's QR codes.
if you want to pay somebody, you can either scan their QR code and put in the amount, or, in the case of stores with the appropriate point of sale systems, the store can scan your code and pull the money from your funds.
transactions are verified/done near instantaneously - either (i) scan the QR code and put in the amount and hit send or (ii) if they're scanning you, authorize the pull with yr phone's authentication system of choice. transactions are stored in your wechat history - no paper receipts. transaction information is also very detailed - tells you which exact store, amount, items bought, etc.
in effect, this means you can pay literally anybody who either has a QR code. so everybody - and i mean everybody down to fruit sellers / street food vendors / sidewalk sellers - has their QR code printed out and laminated. completely cashless
i know people will read this and think 'well america's close - you can get close with credit cards or apple pay or w/e' but practically speaking it's not even close. chip + sig is actually slower than magnetic stripe + sig b/c the handshake and authentication or w/e it is takes longer. signature requirements are also completely stupid and don't increase security at all (in fact i think visa/amex/mastercard are moving to no signatures) but a lot of POS systems still require them. everybody's also still wedded to paper receipts because the info on yr credit card statement is one indecipherable line, half the time with a name that bears no resemblance to the store you bought from. finally credit cards not really universal - only applies to vendors with POS systems - still gotta carry cash for the halal carts & c. and contactless is fragmented - there's apple pay, android pay, paywave or w/e the one with the sunnn 0)))) logo is.
― 龜, Friday, 29 December 2017 02:07 (three years ago) link
Green fields - we will get there (by force of global markets) eventually, I’m glad others are the guinea pigs though tbf
― El Tomboto, Friday, 29 December 2017 02:10 (three years ago) link
i dont' think we willl! we still accept and use personal checks as a form of payment. when we went from magnetic stripe -> chip we had the opportunity to improve security by going to chip + pin like the rest of the world but we screwed it up and went chip + signature
― 龜, Friday, 29 December 2017 02:19 (three years ago) link
The history of our conversion to 4G/LTE from copper and landlines, or our conversion to safer compact-ish cars instead of huge rolling coffins, is the model here. We’re slow to replace the things we invented. I’m perhaps overly optimistic that we’ll adopt new digital banking and citizen ID systems faster than going from our legacy train tracks to high speed commuter rail, but that hope is buttressed by the fact that better payment systems benefit everyone (in our vast and frequently undemocratic expanse) while faster mass transit mostly benefits those on the coasts.
― El Tomboto, Friday, 29 December 2017 02:30 (three years ago) link
oh man don't get me started on the state of rail infrastructure in the US. also it's pretty idiotic/environmentally unfriendly that we primarily use long haul trucking instead of rail right? i wonder what the stats are
― 龜, Friday, 29 December 2017 02:53 (three years ago) link
i did some light googling and it appears america's dependence on long haul trucking is one more area where we've royally screwed the pooch
― 龜, Friday, 29 December 2017 03:00 (three years ago) link
― El Tomboto, Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:35 (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink
Fp even for mentioning this cursed bastard
― remember the lmao (darraghmac), Friday, 29 December 2017 03:04 (three years ago) link
There are reports that Uighur prisoners as well as practitioners of the spiritual group Falun Gong are being used for organ harvesting. Many governments, including Israel, Italy and Taiwan have banned their citizens from traveling to mainland China for organ transplants.
This is much more concerning to me than the coronavirus, allegations of a cover-up, etc. Are there reasons to doubt these reports? If not, why isn’t this a bigger story? What can an American do about this?
― treeship., Saturday, 1 February 2020 20:39 (eleven months ago) link
The report is from a Falun Gong front.
― ShariVari, Saturday, 1 February 2020 20:49 (eleven months ago) link
It was reported pretty extensively at the time but I’d guess there is still substantial scepticism about the evidence.
― ShariVari, Saturday, 1 February 2020 20:57 (eleven months ago) link
Hope it’s not true. It’s been picked up by lots of mainstream media sources though.
― treeship., Saturday, 1 February 2020 21:00 (eleven months ago) link
Amnesty and others generally do an ok job of documenting human rights abuses wrt FG and make a better starting point.
FG’s propaganda arm is branching out in some increasingly wild directions.
― ShariVari, Saturday, 1 February 2020 22:00 (eleven months ago) link
What about the uighurs though? There are vast numbers of religious minorities in secret prisons now
― treeship., Saturday, 1 February 2020 22:48 (eleven months ago) link
I don’t think anyone particularly credible disputes the situation in Xinjiang is extremely bad and, as difficult as it is to report on, it seems to have been fairly extensively covered. What can an American do about it? idk.
― ShariVari, Saturday, 1 February 2020 23:21 (eleven months ago) link
Er, 20 Indian soldiers killed by China in Kashmir?
― Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 21:22 (seven months ago) link
See Rolling South Asia thread as well
― calzino, Tuesday, 16 June 2020 21:24 (seven months ago) link
― Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 21:44 (seven months ago) link
clearing out old things i meant to post but never got round to, plus i've got a few articles on china in the backlog i want to get to over christmas, so it's a good refresher, even if i've lost some of the points i wanted to make now:
Spent a bit of holiday time (note: i think this must have been the summer holiday) reading up on the current state of China in the world. Clearly a massive topic of which this can be the barest expression, but putting down some thoughts here. Inevitably fairly long, apologies.
First up Adam Tooze's excellent essay in the LRB. Tooze writing continues to have the sound of someone who is based in Keynesianism and social democracy but is continually drawn to post-GFC Marxist critiques. I have some not very well formed doubts I guess at an epistemological level about his 'history as it happens' approach, but he brings a energy, hard work, intelligence and honed historiographical skills to doing it, which makes him the closest thing I think we've got at the moment to a public intellectual.
In fact one of the first things he points out in the essay is that the all of the books that he's reviewing feel like they're out of date, due to the continual and rapid reframing of China and its relationship with the US (Trump, Covid).
End of History Narratives
One of the main themes of the essay is how end-of-Cold-War narratives, whether in their end-of-history, or neoliberal/economic forms of emphasis, have significantly misled US and Western observers and commentators of China:
The crude Trumpian take, which is perhaps also the kindest, is that the US negotiators of the 1990s and early 2000s were chumps, suckered by the Chinese. The more sophisticated version is that Bill Clinton’s team were too committed to the kind of modernisation theory Frances Fukuyama spun in his ‘end of history’ essay in 1989. They believed the liberal story that as China’s economy matured it would inevitably develop a need for the rule of law and representative democracy. If the Communist regime refused this logic and clung to its old ways, the laws of social science would condemn it to economic stagnation. Either way America had nothing to fear.
This is another description of the belief that where global trade can be introduced, western democratic values must surely follow (a causal narrative argument derived from the fall of the Soviet Union) and conversely, that contemporary Western methods of democracy are a pre-requisite for wealth (this i take to be a fundamentally Chicago School/Hayekian argument – that the market will always outperform any form of central planning, not just economically, but in terms of managing social needs as well).
Tooze identifies Tiananmen Square as the crucial bit of information missing from the neoliberal/EoH model for historical and global engagement. He compares 1989 in Germany and China, both of which have seen significant trade imbalances in favour of exports, both of which drove down wages in different ways. In Germany the fall of the Berlin Wall meant access to cheap east European production resources. In China, for Tooze, Tiananmen Square signified the beginning of state repression, holding down of wages and currency manipulation (downward), as part of a global cheap export drive.
Crucially for Tooze where the fall of the Berlin wall was the critical motif of the explanatory end of history explanatory model, and neoliberal approach to generating and distributing wealth, and represented a rupture with the previous era, Tiananmen Square represented *continuity*. As Tooze says towards the end, "We have to take seriously the CCP's sense of mission." Tiananmen Square was for Tooze a doubling down, which was ignored, while the West applied a model based on Cold War victory.
This was based on opening up China for business. Bill Clinton's administration worked hard to encourage the WTO to accept China, while on the Chinese side there was a large amount of work to enable trade convergence, with thousands of laws being changed to ensure WTO compliance. None of this was accidental but represented a major act of geopolitical world building, in the US case, based on the neoliberal predictive principles outlined above, and in the Chinese case, feeding into the export-driven model of growth.
The US perception of a unipolar world, led to a world in which, in a great phrase by Tooze, "Economic growth powered by globalisation was geopolitically innocent." Where there was "a clean line between economic policy and security policy".
There's some great paras in the Tooze essay – I loved this one on how a business-led approach
This is all a long way from the 1990s, when America’s corporate leaders could confidently assume that their way of seeing the world was so deeply entrenched in the US political system that their desired version of integration with China would go unchallenged, whatever the costs it imposed on American society. They folded China into their corporate planning as though all that was involved were private business decisions, not a wholesale rewiring of the global order. Today, that wager on the world as a playground of corporate strategy is unravelling.
This is course a description of simon pure, 100% no-pepsi-in-my-product neoliberalism.
So what went wrong?
Fold all that – Berlin Wall model v Tiananmen Square model, neoliberalism, corporation-led politics as benchmark of success, false perception of a unipolar world – against a single-minded, state-pursued 'sense of mission', what do you get?
As Beijing coolly points out when faced with complaints from the Americans, no one forces Boeing, GE or GM to invest in the Chinese market: they do it for profit.
The US complains about lack of transparency, the lack of opening up of China, the retention of 'sovereign discretion', of the Chinese regime, while still seeking to trade, and so has no bargaining power in the process of economic liberalisation - what on earth is the incentive for China.
Tooze is some fairly devastating paragraphs in the essay, including this on the notion of a Cold War victory:
For Americans, part of the appeal of allusions to Cold War 2.0 is that they think they know how the first one ended. Yet our certainty on that point is precisely what the rise of China ought to put in question. The simple fact is that the US did not prevail in the Cold War in Asia. Korea was divided by a stalemate. Vietnam was a humiliating failure. It was to find a way out of that debacle that Nixon and Kissinger turned to Beijing and inaugurated a new era of Sino-American relations.
This created the rules for the current game being played, which the piece argues are out of date.
Misreading the rules can have have significant effects - there's an important argument against US austerity, with some recommending cutting government spending, and making companies more competitive. in fact it is capital inflow from abroad, with China investing export earnings in safe US assets and US government debt, rather than productivity that's the problem. again, it's difficult to beat Tooze here:
By 2013, Chinese dollar holdings had risen to more than three trillion dollars, driving up the dollar and crowding out American manufacturing. An imaginative American policymaker might have decided to treat this inflow like proceeds from oil wells, directing it into a ring-fenced sovereign wealth fund, which could have been used to fund much needed infrastructure projects or an industrial policy to match those of China and Germany. Instead, it was Wall Street that profited in its role as the chief conduit of global finance – opening a third front in the class war.
Tooze argues that some people are fighting 'the last war' wrt China's low wages and currency manipulation to drive exports, IP protection and access to the markets is what matters now.
― Fizzles, Thursday, 24 December 2020 08:31 (one month ago) link
fizzles I just want to say i really enjoyed reading that, as a kind of guide to highlights of that Tooze essay - which i read last summer, but large chunks of which i'd forgotten about. your last citation is particularly depressing but has a silver lining maybe of reminding us of just how much is actually at stake in elections, and the radically different material outcomes at stake in adopting one set of macroeconomic presuppositions over another.
two summers ago i stayed at a WPA cabin on the cumberland plateau in tennessee, and thinking about the young men who got bused out there to undertake such a massive landscaping and building project, in what really still is the absolute middle of nowhere, and how their work still stands today, providing a hub for community and commerce, gave me the shivers. that we don't have the imagination and political will for such projects now is cause for a kind of mourning i think.
― Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 15:00 (one week ago) link
I've been reading this piece on Biden and China and where it could go:
― xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 January 2021 22:22 (one week ago) link