Category Archives: Current Events

Taiwan: A Democracy or a Democrazy?

I’ve seen Taiwan’s democracy / democrazy through all these years. (What a renegade Chinese mainland resident I am!) During the years of Chen Shui-bian, when (political) lines between Ilha Formosa and its communist rival on the mainland were drawn with every Chen speech, people were far from being 100% in agreement about what Ketangalan Boulevard was all about. Brawls in the legislature were not uncommon: often, these were deals between Mainland China and Taiwan. Water was poured onto legislators, microphones were broken, and what must have been a hundred-page report (unstapled!) were simply thrown onto the floor. Things turned from the rational to the irrational when pro-China legislator Li Ao was thrown a shoe.

We’re having exactly the same in Taiwan these days over a new agreement with Mainland China. Yes, I’ve been lazy these days — I haven’t checked what’s up re: this very issue on the Wikipedia. But the fact is, occupying a legislature is (a) not done “just like that” and (b) is a serious issue indeed. On Facebook I’ve been hearing a lot of views from inside Taiwan and there is one that me and others posted that seems to have struck a chord (loosely translated below):—

If we have a fight with China, the communist army will wipe us out. If we keep fighting with the government, all of Taiwan stands to suffer. Thing is: the Taiwanese are best maximising their own efforts. Just be you and be better in all that you do. Make people look at Taiwan — going away admiring Taiwan. That is the true hidden beauty of Taiwan.

That’s one point that seems to have won a fair bit of hearts. But the question remains: What if you have a government that seems to be going out of control? Throwing shoes and occupying legislatures happens in democracies that have a bit of an identity crisis, for these appear to be acts of democrazy in a democracy. But the people still think the government are going bonkers. And they want to be heard.

We need something, then, that’s called a veto vote. Yes, it’s a David Feng polit term that makes less than no sense. It’s like as if you were told that you had to shift gears to make a car with automatic transmission work (which would technically be OK, but would in reality invalidate the one big benefit of going automatic — saving you from shifting gears all the time!).

But the idea of the veto vote is that the people can come out and propose either a counter-proposal or an outright veto of a government bill. In countries where people aren’t so “vote-savvy” (such as China), one can allow here the system to enable both “open-air” meetings and meetings with “informed voters”.

The two things about a democracy that make it all the more worthwhile (and believe me, I myself am a citizen of such a democracy — Switzerland):—

  • “Mic power”: That you are able to speak on an equal level as that of the government (by airing your free thoughts — of course ideally a la Habermas and his public sphere, without Big Bad Business interfering with you);
  • “Veto power”: That you are able to bang on that Great Big Red Button whenever you see government acting like a bozo, going bonkers.

Of course, you can have other rights as well — but as a citizen of a democracy living in a communist nation, I find that these two “power rights” are what separates a PRC citizen from a Swiss (as an example).

Note: Ever since Switzerland’s political EU-suicide on 09 February 2014, I have stowed away my “Swiss pride” and have become a vocal critic of the Swiss authorities — for a very simple reason that you can’t simply let the crowds tear apart an agreement you let them sign in the first place. It’s like: Oh great, I found my wife liked seafood, and I never liked that crap, so we’re divorcing. Instant knee-jerk reaction: Huh? Switzerland (and the SVP in particular) — you need to grow a few brains. There’s a better way to solve the immigration issues than to force yourself into isolation — that makes you eventually look like some kind of European Pyeongyang…

Being in a Censored Environment… Makes You Want to Un-Censor…

The last few days in China have been total wildness, madness, and everything like that.

They are getting rid of people who are just a mere inch outside of the policies that a certain “central organisation” (as they say here) subscribe to. If they’re not getting rid of these people, they are at least making their lives hell. They are firing people who invite the president over and guarantee that everything is doing great. And they are stripping people of their ranks who have tried (with all measures, sane and insane) to fight “bad people” in the big cities.

And then I wondered:
All the censoring… and demoting… and firing… and stuff like that:
Why with all this negativity?
What is with all this negativity?

I remind myself of things I’ve read. Which, in random bullet form, appear like this:

  • Be confident. Don’t repress people because otherwise you’d appear anything but confident. Censorship is a giveaway that you’re not self-confident. Believe in yourself (but don’t be arrogant either!).
  • Aesop’s Fables… Be like the sun. Get the guy to take off his jacket because you’re accommodating. The wind may be tempting — as in, an attempt to get people to harken to your line using brute force may be tempting. But it isn’t… it did not work with Aesop…
  • We met someone whom I think I hardly ever had a moment which I felt down. (Odd, eh?) Thing is: Humans are not gods, but there are humans who, when you’re with them, inspire you to do things you thought you couldn’t really pull off.

Some of the people I meet on social media will tweet a lot, and they’re positive. At times I have been inspired by this positiveness, which has then resulted me in asking myself questions. Questions like:-

  • When one of these crazy Beijing drivers gets the better of you, do you bang into him (even hit him or kill him), or take down his license number, or just — let it be?
  • If someone wants you to retweet something, will you not do it just because you have (or you think you have) bad blood with just one person that’s mentioned?
  • Do you treat people the same — but to such extremes of “equality” that when you are mad at people, you are as “equally belligerent” to a farmer as you are to the president of a nation?
  • Have you ever been treated so bad that you feel like creating a “sh#t list” of people and then record every single mishap they have done to you?
  • Do you coerce people?… or do you talk them into doing things without making them feel bad?
  • When you get your train tickets at the Beijing South Railway Station, do you kindly request (with a smile) a countryside guy (probably from the poorer interiors of China) to stand in queue — or do you “come down upon him” like the operator of one of those tanks in the square?
  • When the railways start running slower, do you call the present minister an S*B or do you find ways to ameliorate the situation?

I’m hoping that I’ll answer my questions I just posed in a more positive manner from today onwards. Of course, I have been inspired by many positive people. My wife is one. Lotay is another. I think there are a lot of people that can make it to the list.

I’m not expecting 100% miracles, but as long as I have a resolve to be “less of a prick” (as one of my classmates in my teenage years would say), I think I’m a bit closer to being on the right track… I don’t consider today an “epiphany”: more a case of: OK, I’ve gotten my thoughts together — now less of the old and more of the new.

Of course, there are a few principles I’m keeping to:—

  • To “piss less people off” (if you must say it this way), I’m remaining neutral politically and religiously. I have never belonged to any political organisations in China, Switzerland or anywhere and I’d love to keep it this way. In the same vein, I don’t subscribe to religious convictions but as long as a religion is accepted as right and proper, they’ll be afforded respect my end.
  • My stance against intoxication, tobacco, gambling, drugs, porn, infidelity and the endangering of families remain (and by endangering I mean trouble both inside homes and from outsiders who might be threats). I personally believe that these aren’t for me and for my family. As she is part of the family (of course!), the wife subscribes to the same. However, my friends are on more lenient terms. I’ve friends who drink and smoke, or goes to casinoes, and that’s OK — as long as my family isn’t dragged into this. (I don’t unfriend or unfollow people online just because they did a post on, for example, alcohol or gambling.) Still, I prefer to keep my distance away from those of less good character, and it is of course certain that I won’t count drug traffickers, criminals, or porn stars amongst my circle of friends. Everyone has their own principles and I think we ought to respect that.
  • Finally, a solid principle of my career is that everything I do must be to the benefit of society at large. It won’t be a sin for me to get rich, of course, but I can’t live in a luxury castle while not caring about poor kids in, say, sub-Saharan Africa. That’s just not me. I don’t live to get rich or famous, but when one or both happens, I share the goodness — I don’t huddle all those microphones together, so to speak, and by no means egoistically — but I hand them out to people with legitimate needs to get speak out, so that they share their views freely, or I use the “mic power” and media influence to make lives get better.

“Occupy China”? No Thank You

First big question to throw you: In case China does get “occupied”… what will you do to the 99% of 1.3 billion?

Like it or not, reality sets in: the current “system” is pretty much the only “thing” out there that will keep 1.3 billion tummies full. That’s a little bit of harsh reality for ya.

China does have a myriad of social issues (the political ones, of course, are those that everyone understands). Here’s just a sprinkling:

  • Farting coal mine bosses in First Class. By that I mean folks who get rich — literally overnight. The Chinese term bao fa hu (暴發戶) are what I’m after. These guys suddenly get a million or even a billion overnight. They spend it all on luxury goods reserved for the rich and the noble, but unlike the real noble folks, they don’t have the manners that the nobles “come equipped with” by default. Such as — not farting in First Class. I don’t think Gaddhafi died “just because” he farted in an interview with Larry King, but that was one heck of a disgusting move by the dead dictator.
  • Farting coal mine bosses in First Class miles — removed from the poor. There are the newly-rich fart machines, and then, there are also the disadvantaged. China’s in this pretty disillusioning state right now where the richer are increasingly richer, but the poorer are also much less well-off than before. The gap between the rich and poor is so big now that it’s spilt on over into the streets. Beggars now roam the Beijing CBD (all too often controlled by criminal organizations), and there’s no more real “harmony” between the farmers and the urbanites: If an urbanite happened to “do something bad” to a farmer, the entire village of all those farmers out there would basically kill the invading urbanite with every last rake, knife, fork, whatever they can find.
  • A pretty skanky Labour Contract Law. I have to say, Deng Xiaoping was a hero for getting rid of lifetime employment with guarantees. Now you have to work to get paid. No more with Wen Jiabao, who OKed the Labour Contract Law — a legal invention that grants you your job for life after you finish the first year without a hitch. This bill has shifted this nation into reverse gear, like it or not. Actually, there’s one thing I’m hoping for that would land you “eternality” once you’re here for a year: my Chinese visa. (It’s easier on me, a Swiss citizen with a PRC wife…)
  • Regional discrimination. The He’nanese are the crooks; all Shanghainese are racist; and the northeast houses the nation’s collection of thugs. Or supposedly, that’s the case. Regional racism is alive and well. If you’re a non-Shanghainese, “shopping territory” for you is by default Nanjing East Road; the “real” Shanghainese (who according to folks in Shanghai are the “only people who aren’t poor) go to Huaihai Middle Road instead. The He’nanese take the blame for every last criminal act, it seems (like the Italians and the Balkans to the Swiss); and the northeasterners are infamous for being people that will ring up a gang to exterminate you upon the slightest offence. If you wanted 31 countries instead of 31 provinces in a country, then keep up this kind of regional racism. Otherwise, dump it.
  • More high speed trains than professional educators. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Chinese HSR (copied from the West, except for the homegrown CRH380A and CRH380AL trainsets), but the PRC just isn’t spending much cash on making the population more educated. The result is a population of academic robots — folks who swot stuff for tests and then forget them the moment they graduate. As a Swiss, I have outdone my PRC equivalents when it comes to Q&A sessions in class. The Swiss questions what the lecturer has said; not a sound comes from the PRC student population. And I thought the Japanese were robotic already.
  • A moral blank. No longer striving for revolutionary communism, yet always a little suspicious about Confucius and even more so about the West, China’s a moral blank these days. It seems like having a first mistress isn’t enough: successful people are supposed to have second or more mistresses. A man “does his thing” to his (former) lover, then divorces her or fails to marry her, and lets the woman suffer. Kids born in the 1990s openly damn their parents on the Web, and those born in the 2000s read cartoons which would have been banned only a decade ago. Progress? Not really. Most of these cartoons are all about people-turned-poo-machines. Progress?
  • An increasingly nervous Peking. Add the income gap, regional discrimination, poor education, moral blanks, and all that together, and couple it with an “unharmonious” world (the “US imperialists” so-called have already nixed Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden and most recently Gaddhafi), and you can see why the folks in the capital are more than a tad shaking in their boots. With a major change of guards at the topmost echelons in a year’s time, if “stuff happens” in this final year, it’ll just completely wipe China off the map. China has a fifth of the world’s population. How do you like 1.3 billion homeless beggars?

So yeah, we do have a fair bit of issues, but this is probably not the time to rock the boat like that. So here’s the upshot: “Occupy China”? No, thank you. We can’t be confident that we’ll deal with all the issues this very second, and solving them inside our own cocoon will probably take a little time, but the last thing we need is foreign “occupation”.

The PRC and its people run on a very different chipset from the US variant. We don’t have a Second Amendment because we’ve been all about peace and harmony — Confucius said it millennia before there was even the idea of communism. The Chinese aren’t folks who are in favour of creating a tempest in a teapot when there could be a more peaceful, stress-free alternative.

Oh, and if you want the Chinese to continue shopping overseas, pouring millions and millions of dollars (or yuan) upon those of you based outside the PRC — don’t toy with those who give you the money. It’s not nice, and it probably won’t work out great, either. And for those of you more money-oriented: having the PRC as the 51st State of the US probably won’t work great, either. (Just do the maths…)