Monday, May 30, 2005


Once again, Eastsouthwestnorth has done us a great public service by translating a huge chunk of an important article that recently appeared in the Chinese press. In ESWN's words, the article is significant because:
First, the newspaper is the Chinese Youth Daily, an organ of the Chinese Communist Youth League and therefore an article of this nature must have received official blessing from higher up. The editor-in-chief of Chinese Youth Daily would not dare to publish this without the approval of his superiors at the Chinese Youth League; in turn, they would not have dared to approve this without the approval of someone in the State Council.

Second, the author is Lung Ying-tai, one of the top public intellectuals brought up in Taiwan, educated in the United States and Germany and presently affiliated with Hong Kong University. She had been named as one of the top 50 public intellectuals of the Chinese world, and then promptly attacked by official Chinese media for being unduly influential.

Third, the topic of the article is Taiwan and its mainstream values of democracy and freedom. This article goes a long way to explaining that the overall reluctance of the people of Taiwan for immediate re-unification has little or nothing to do with any independence movement but much more with a lifestyle that has democracy and freedom ingrained in every aspect of daily life. The appearance of this article may be interpreted as a relaxation of media control about discussion on the Taiwan issue. How shall the government or people in mainland China respond to what Lung Ying-tai is saying?
Talk about mixed messages from China regarding the media, with the appearance of this piece virtually coninciding with the detention of the prominent reporter Ching Cheong in Guangzhou.

But one should never assume that the CCP is a monolithic entity these days, with everyone marching in lockstep to the same party line. There are factions that strongly favor reform and greater openness in public discourse, and there are factions which most certainly do not. Still, coming practically on the heels of the Anti-Secession law, you could get whiplash trying to follow the debate on Taiwan, particularly when the article under discussion contains passages like this:
People in Taiwan are accustomed to living in a democratic system. This means that the democracy system holds the same place in their daily lives as as daily necessities such as tea, rice, cooking oil and salt.

Here is one such person. His government building is open. There are no guards at the door to check his documents. He comes out of the government building just as he would come out of a shopping mall. If he has to go through a procedure, apply for a document or get a few stamps on some documents, there is no barrier. He gets a queueing number and he waits, and no one will jump in the line ahead of him. When his turn comes, the workers will not give him a hard time or cause him trouble. When he is done, he can wander around the government building, browse in the bookstore and have a cup of coffee. The coffee and the snack is brought over by a mentally handicapped youth, because the government requires that every government office must employ mentally or physically handicapped people in certain ratios. He sits in center court to sip his coffee and if he sees the mayor walk past, he can run over to get an autograph.

If he waits too long at the government office, or if the attitude of the government worker was bad, he can cast his vote for another mayoral candidate in four years' time.
There's much, much more. Do go and read the whole thing.


Hui Mao said...

"But one should never assume that the CCP is a monolithic entity these days, with everyone marching in lockstep to the same party line."

I agree completely. That's why I think people are a little too quick to draw conclusions about Hu Jintao after some recent setbacks for media freedom.

"the Chinese Youth Daily, an organ of the Chinese Communist Youth League"

And the Chinese Communist Youth League is the power base of who? (pun intended :-))

Other Lisa said...

Boy, I am sooooo slow today that I didn't get the pun until I read it for a second time....sheesh!

That's extremely interesting, Hui Mao. Always interested in your thoughts on such things...

Thijs said...

Nice article.

In Belgium there is only one chinese topic: the low prices of exported chinese clothing.

If this continues several textile factories will be forced to close in a few years, causing more poverty in our country.

Other Lisa said...

Thijs, the textile/clothing controversy is big here too...I'll keep my eyes open for a good article on the topic. I do recall one piece published a while back in the LA Times - what was interesting is that China's dominance in textiles/clothing is not only an issue for developed countries with higher labor costs, but also for poor countries - Cambodia and Botswana I think were two mentioned - that can't compete in terms of efficiency and getting their product quickly overseas...