Thursday, 24 February 2011

Chinese Unrest (動蕩 在 中國)

"Apparently attempting to make a statement without falling foul of China’s security forces, participants were urged not to take any overt action, but encouraged to merely show up for the 2pm “strolling” protests. “We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear,” it said."
Yes. I wish these brave people in China every success; as I have said before elsewhere not only do they act for their own freedom, but in doing so, they represent the only real hope for the security of Taiwanese people from PRC coercion. By comparison, the internecine politics of the 民進黨 (DPP) in Taiwan are at best only marginally relevant to any future prospect of a free and secure Taiwan. In this connexion, only three things really matter: the bravery and canniness of Chinese dissidents and the wider Chinese population; the internecine politics of both the CCP (中國共產黨) and the PLA (中国人民解放军) in which the pro-political modernizers must do their utmost to constrain the suppressive tendencies of the more overtly fascist elements; and finally, the willingness of the U.S. Government to not only pursue a more assertive strategy of military containment, but to seriously and openly confront Beijing on moral principles (which latter prospect right now seems so faint as to be practically absent).

It is vitally important however that good people on both sides of the Strait envisage how a post-CCP China could look, and in particular, to recognize the primary importance of depoliticizing Chinese society over any populist clamour for elections on everything. As I have said before, the most important feature of a Liberal democracy is its' Liberalism - i.e. the repudiation, restriction and devolution of political power.


  1. Yes: liberalism over democracy. In fact, liberalism without democracy. Liberalism without any -cracy.

    Much agreed, Mike. Sadly, however, I'm not very optimistic about China, at least not at this point.

    I also agree with your description of the DPP's politics. I'm not very optimistic about their relevance to any "future prospect of a free and secure Taiwan," either. But at least then Taiwanese can blame only themselves. Up to now, the KMT has been to blame almost completely--and, I would argue rightfully so, at least to a point. However, I think the first step--or perhaps I should say leap--in taking charge of one's own freedom is shaking off the authority of another. If that occurs, one has the opportunity to accept responsibility for one's own actions--even failures. I think, although this may sound more optimistic than it's really intended, that cannot occur on Taiwan as long as the current situation persists. This is one reason why I dislike the KMT so (to a greater extent than I dislike the DPP). That, and I can't stand all the KMT myths wrapped in enigma and sold as Truth. Myth certainly exists within the DPP as well. Isn't that a what politics are, to a large extent, about: myth?

  2. "...I'm not very optimistic about China..."

    For myself, neither optimism nor pessimism come into it - there's no other choice but to keep on keeping on.

    But insofar as reasons for optimism go, I believe the demographic and economic, political and environmental problems are so many, so serious and so large as to mean the PRC has only two options: reform or collapse, and I also believe there are many people within the CCP and PLA who already know this - some may consider a collapse as terrible, some may see in it political opportunity.

    The PRC will change, and probably fairly soon - of that I am convinced - the only question is when reform or revolution takes place, by whom it will be instigated and on what principles it will be consummated.

  3. "The PRC will change, and probably fairly soon - of that I am convinced - the only question is when reform or revolution takes place, by whom it will be instigated and on what principles it will be consummated."

    This is of course a brilliant piece of insight. But is it a question or statement? We appreciate the spirit of your words which seem meant to rally us, but are confused on how to proceed. Please re-word in understandable English.

    Marcus Chou

  4. Mike: The _TT_ published an editorial of mine today. Although their editing work needs a bit of help, the original is posted on my blog along with the published version. It will offer a little insight as to what I think "change" in the PRC will mean--or should I say, since it is one possibility, may mean. There are of course other possibilities, but this particular possibility is one reason why I'm not too optimistic about at least the short- to medium-term future.

    Marcus: ". . . but are confused on how to proceed." Therein lies the rub, does it not? I'm not sure whether that's something Mike or I can answer definitively, although we can try. And I'm sure Mike can do a better job of explaining the spirit behind such things. I for one, and I think Mike for two, hope for the best in China. There are many aspects of Chinese culture and society that I do love; I'm critical of the government to some extent, and that's because I'm a student of it. Many lovers of freedom, myself included, have hope in you and those like you.

  5. "By comparison, the internecine politics of the 民進黨 (DDP) in Taiwan are at best only marginally relevant to any future prospect of a free and secure Taiwan."

    I know what the 民進黨 is; it's a political party in Taiwan. I'm confused about the DDP. What is it? I'm guessing it has something to do with Taiwan. I've lived in this country my whole life and I've never heard of it. Please clarify.

    I'm sure you have a deep knowledge of Chinese culture, Mr. Novak. Do you live in Asia, perhaps in China? Please tell us about yourself.

    Marcus Chou

  6. Re: Marcus, who is "us"?

    I currently live in Taiwan, although I've been to China several times and am currently doing a Master's degree in China and Asia-Pacific studies with the hope of continuing for my Ph.D. I focus on China's the Asia-Pacific's political and economic development, cross-Strait relations, China's foreign and security policies, and Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese modern histories. (I also put some emphasis on South and Southeast Asia, but these are not my areas of focus per se.) I cannot say I have a "deep knowledge of Chinese culture," as I am not Chinese and have been directly exposed to Asian cultures for only about six years, but I do put much of my focus on observing, experiencing, understanding (to the best of my ability), and studying--and, at times, being critical. It helps that my wife and her family are also Taiwanese.

    There is a load of information on the DPP; all you need to do is Google. I do not wish to shape (in either way) your understanding of it, so perhaps it is best to look up some info first regarding it from other sources.

    And please, call me Nate or Nathan. No one can rightfully call me Dr. yet, and Mr. is reserved for my late father.

  7. Marcus: DDP is a typo; it should have been DPP.

    Nate: "us" undoubtedly means "we, the readers".

  8. Marcus:

    " it a question or statement?"

    A statement. I'll rephrase it for you:

    I believe the PRC will change fairly soon (maybe in the next ten years) but there are three important questions - {1} When will it change (i.e. before or after collapse?), {2} Who will change it (i.e. Chinese citizens or Chinese rulers similar to Wen Jiabao [温家宝]?), and {3} How will it change (i.e. elections to government, or principled restrictions on government?).

    "We ... are confused on how to proceed."

    Just proceed. You can choose two basic ways: first, like Liu Xiaobo [刘晓波 or 劉曉波], you can challenge the CCP directly knowing you will be punished but accepting this; second, you can show your anger to the CCP but without getting caught, which is what I'd recommend if you have children for example. The first way is excellent, but very expensive; the second way helps, but you must still be very careful.


    "...The _TT_ published an editorial of mine today..."

    I know - read it this morning at the park (today's pieces were all much better than usual); I thought your ending was a little weak maybe - the phrases "left to their own devices" and "full democracy" leave so much implicit and unstated which I think merit concentrated discussion (but of course you don't have space). I do not think for example, that were Chinese dissidents to succeed at some point in the future, they either would or could leave the worst elements of the CCP to "their own devices" (assuming that means they'd be in some position of political power) without some sort of effort to identify them and remove or discredit them.

    Steve - yes and yes, cheers. Typo corrected.

  9. "..(today's pieces were all much better than usual).."

    Except the one on junk food and the two Guardian pieces on N. Africa - which I used to clean up the dog shit.

  10. Sorry to tease you in my blog.

  11. Forget to mention it's Kerry.

  12. You sound very interesting, Nate. You are obviously not bogged down by these ill-thought out concepts of the liberals that are invading our country. It is my hope now that achieve your doctorate in Taiwan. When you do so, I'll be able to refer to you as Doctor Novak.

    Here's my background. My grandfather came to Taiwan in 1949, to escape communism. That is why I have no use for the apologists that are infecting Taiwan right now. Where would Taiwan be without Chiang Kai-shek? It would just be another province in China, which Mr. Fagan is intelligently predicting will fall soon. But I'll tell you something. I love and appreciate Taiwan, and do not see Chinese and Taiwanese culture as the same. My grandpa was able to make his fortune in Taiwan first as a bureaucrat and then as a real estate agent. He could not have achieved this in a country which was communist. Without his sweat and tears, I would never have been able to study abroad and talk to you on this informative blog right now.

    I hope you keep up the letters. Sadly, there are a lot of people out there who refuse to think so clearly as you, Nate, and of course Mr. Fagan.

    Marcus Chou

  13. Marcus: please don't call such people "liberals" on my blog. They aren't; the more accurate term is either "democrats" or "socialists" (or sometimes "fascists").

  14. Marcus: I'll probabaly be doing my Ph.D. in the United States (simply because it is, rather sadly, more marketable). I would like to do it in Taiwan, but I have also seen some weak spots in the program I'm now attending (all have weak spots, of course), and the world system is designed such that a Ph.D. from Taiwan means little outside of Taiwan. As I don't have the connections or the language skills of a local, I'd be out of work in no time if I were to do my Ph.D. here. Taiwan will always be one of my homes, however, no matter where my wife, our family, and I end up.

    Mike: I tried to leave the ending as a question mark. Somewhat weak, I know, but I cannot predict the future. I just wanted to express the idea, amidst all the external clamoring for democracy in other areas recently, that the death of one authoritarian or authoritarian system does not necessitate the rise of a liberal democratic system. And without any form of control mechanism on lower officials, similar to the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, places could become separate little fiefdoms--similar to the Warlord Era. Although I personally doubt a new Warlord Era would be the outcome, anything short of a unified China would probably lead to conflict between groups that would spill over throughout the region. However, the real thing I was trying to show was that I did not really want to try to predict any future outcome (unlike liberal democrats, who for some reason believe history is on their side) and am not as positive about the future. So weak as it may be, and with loose ends and whatnot, I would argue that's the way it should be left, at least now. Anyway, that's what I think. Feel free to pick apart.

  15. Dear Nate, you write:

    "I'll probabaly be doing my Ph.D. in the United States (simply because it is, rather sadly, more marketable)."

    That's understandable. Taiwan degrees are just like those of most countries outside the US if you follow the rankings - - toilet paper. I hope the US universities you apply for give you the time of day and accept you into a graduate program. I am guessing the more prestigious schools will not do this, even though you have tried so hard here in Taiwan. I can't stand this sort of thing, truly. They are jackasses!

    Nate, I know that some of the state universities don't give a crap about anything other than collecting high tuitions. The university I went to was like this. They saw me as a foreigner who was able to pay a lot of money. To them, I was just some rich Taiwanese and nothing more. Now, at the end of the day, I have two degrees! The professors there, based on the grades I received, thought I was a fool, but who is having the last laugh?

    Good luck to you, Nate!

    Marcus Chou


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