All change, please!
This post has been updated and is now on a new version of this site.
This notice will remain online until 20 September 2016.
All change, please!
This page has been updated and is now on a new version of this site.
This notice will remain online until 20 September 2016.
I have never been a believer in any religion — but that’s because I’m happily neutral, religion-wise. Chez moi, I don’t approve of, oppose, support, or otherwise get involved with religion.
But I have this thing about people who start abusing a religion trying to make money. As of late I have been keeping my 101 kilometres away from two Starbucks in town: that at Tower III, World Trade Centre, and, beginning today, the one at Shin Kong Plaza. (The latter one is a riot: My wife and I nearly fell over when they started testing a new type of “outdoor sofa”, if we’re to put it this way.)
In Chinese, there’s a proverb that makes you look like you’ve done nothing bad — when you’re the thief yourself. The story goes that this guy was envious of his neighbour, so he nicked 300 taels of silver. Just to “make sure” the neighbour didn’t get suspicious, he erected a sign — “Under this plot of land there are no 300 taels of silver” (此地無銀三百兩).
That’s like the perfect give-away!
In both cases, we’ve seen shanzhai Buddhist monks wearing a standard grey dress with the Zen / Chan character at the back. The kind you see at temples for real believers. Guy comes with this kind of Buddhist ornament and starts peddling his wares.
There’s a city law in Beijing banning unauthorised business practices without a permit. This guy never got himself the permit. Either he is trying to sell us suspect commodities or he is offering suspect services (“May I read your palm? I think you’re rich!”, goes the one at the World Trade Centre).
The worst thing about the whole phenomenon is that fake monks trying to sell you shanzhai goods are the least of your worries. I’ve heard worse horror stories. There are people who go to temples during the day time, then head straight into the nightclubs by midnight, doing all kinds of horrible — and certainly unethical — stuff. These are “devout followers” by day, and “devout abusers” by night.
If Guo Meimei has ruined China’s Red Cross foundation, these sham monks are doing exactly the same to Buddhism. I don’t know what the religion exactly stands for, but I’m sure they can’t stand for evil. If China was trying to “save itself” via Buddhism, these sham monks are doing all they can to make Chinese view Buddhism the same way as they view the Chinese Red Cross. In a country where “alternative cults” are banned, religion is severely limited, and freedoms of conscience come with strings attached, the population is left to worshipping nothing — except for money.
When we get greedy — when 1.3 billion get greedy at the same time, all of a sudden — the end is that a nation of 5,000 years and counting will finally meet its makers. (It’ll also get the rest of the planet in a bit of a worry.)
Socialist indoctrination has not worked in China — there is a very visible and sizeable part of the population of people who have deep-seated doubts about what the 7 PM propaganda news show is trying to convince us “is the truth”. When religion and basic morals give way to nothing but money worship — that’s when we’re in real danger.
The city of Beijing is promulgating two new regulations on the roads:—
Its rationale: We need to keep the city to ourselves… we need to give Beijing cars priority in Beijing… so there!
And to that new rule I say: #FAIL. This is the typical knee-jerk reaction one expects from .gov.anywhere… EU citizens “overpopulate” Switzerland (are they not afforded “freedom of movement”?), so the Swiss go to the polls and literally votes them out (killer immigrant quotas to come); Beijing’s traffic gets awful, so City Hall goes and starts hurrying non-Beijing cars away from the centre of town.
Never before were you an alien in one’s own country. Or as the German would say, Ausländer im eigenen Inland. This is “logic” that defies logic.
It’s probably no secret much of the planet isn’t having its best days as of late. But rather than to exclude, we can elect to include…
Include Tianjin and Hebei, nearby cities / provinces to Beijing, when you grow. Now the “CCP old guard” way to grow is to chuck the surrounding provinces all heavy industry. Great, so their people are polluted way further. (The next bit, then, is to throw them out to He’nan — a province already badly strangled in China when it comes to the image / inhabitants — He’nan people are on a lot of people’s “s**tlist” just for being He’nan people.) The new way, then, would be to dismantle or redo heavy industry, and spread them to parts near you (but outside of the Jing) so that they can both exist and no-one’s really gonna get hurt in all this.
Include the immigrants in your society and let them become you. If foreigners must be “foreign criminals”, that’s a Swiss fault as much as it is a foreign fault. The new way, then, would be to educate them better. Invest in the education of their home countries, so that they already know how to be better civilised before they move in.
To randomly exclude and to discriminate only makes an already bad situation worse. To be more inclusive towards all would make things much better.
As of late the Internet in China has been severely throttled, and for China watchers this must be nothing new. The things that happened two-and-a-half decades back in the heart of the Chinese capital weren’t “alien invasions”. They were that were destined to happen in China as the country in essence legalised capitalism, despite daily rehashes from Zhongnanhai about its “political brand” of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, and as more officials got rich and corrupt, without caring too much about others. China has a problem.
And the more China cracks down, both offline and online, the more the outside world will look on in astonishment. Turkey and (earlier) Russia tried implementing content controls lately: they bore the brunt of criticism as a result. Even in nations traditionally considered “democratic” — such as Australia — the threat of a “Great Firewall with Australian characteristics” is very real, and it’s not winning Canberra mates both inside the island and in the wider world.
The only way for China to come clean is to be sincere and honest. It also needs a healthy dose of confidence — self-confidence, even — but never that fatal “E” thing (ego). Thankfully, the new leadership selected in late 2012 appear to be comparatively more open than Hu and clan, but even here, we are not seeing enough in the way of sincerity and honesty.
It’s no state secret that the more a country has something to hide, the more efforts are made in covering things up. China apologists might always default to comparing the country with north Korea, where it is said historical literature over three years are locked away (as if there was a problem with official propaganda in the hermit kingdom already!). The way for China to move forward is to improve where it has failed. We do not expect a Xinhua report all of a sudden full of Chinese admissions of shortcomings, but then again, China has done it before: After the death of Mao, Deng managed to “re-evaluate” the dead autocrat and conclude 30% of Mao had “serious errors” (he also negated the whole of the cultural revolution). We aren’t expecting much in the way of groundbreaking announcements, but China can be honest to itself and the wider world, once again, and admit its shortcomings.
No nation on the surface of our planet is perfect. Many people point to Switzerland as the country closest to paradise, but I also see its shortcomings: the hotly-contested and discriminatory minaret ban, and more lately, the imposition of quotas on aliens intending to take up residence in the country. We all make mistakes. More importantly, we all can do better.
I’m waiting for Switzerland to rethink its politically perverted immigration policy.
I’m waiting for China to come clean on what it (“officially”) terms its “historical errors”.
I’m waiting for more egomaniacs on the planet to come out from the cold, admit their shortcomings, and get on with the business — the business of being a better earthling. To oneself, of course, but also to all.