Why has democracy failed? Why is China’s government the most popular, most trusted national government on earth? What political system is best for China? What about freedom of speech?
Great Britain, however, will soon take a significant step toward deciding what a private citizen can see on the web even while at home. Before the end of the year, almost all Internet users there will be “opted-in” to a system designed tofilter out pornography. By default, the controls will also block access to “violent material,” “extremist and terrorist related content,” “anorexia and eating disorder websites,” and “suicide related websites.” In addition, the new settings will censor sites mentioning alcohol or smoking. The filter will also block “esoteric material,” though a UK-based rights group says the government has yet to make clear what that category will include. Read More…
A Little History (and Geography)
Before you read the explanation below, take a look at the map. The blue area is Japan’s ADIZ. Japan enlarged it again in May of this year, taking up more of the sea that China has controlled since the 3rd. century AD…
The Japanese seized the Senkakus from China in its defeat of the Chinese military in the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-5.
The Potsdam Declaration (Declaration Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender) of 1945 set the terms of Japan’s unconditional surrender. It was issued jointly by the Allied powers – the US, Britain, and China (the Nationalist or Kuomintang government); and the Soviet Union later “adhered to” the declaration. The Japanese government explicitly accepted it.
The declaration said that Japan should retain no overseas territories.
China was excluded from a later conference issued the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951, and hundreds of islands south of Japan were ceded to Japan, comprising the whole of Okinawa prefecture, including the Senkaku.
Ten years ago, Japan extended its “ID Zone” to within 130 km of China’s coast, and recently has taken administrative control of the Senkakus.
Last May (2013), Japan again extended its ADIZ further into Chinese waters.
It is clear from the image at right that Japan’s ADIZ is vastly larger than China’s, and that it – probably deliberately – extends into waters that have been China’s for millennia. Japan is dooming any hope of an economic recovery with this silly reaction. Their exports to China are already down 10% since they started the Diaoyu squabble, and this will make patriotic Chinese even less enthusiastic about trading with a country that is making itself an enemy.
On 9 September 2013, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate jointly issued the “Interpretation concerning Some Issues of Applicable Law in Handling the Use of Information Networks to Commit Defamation and Other Such Criminal Cases” (hereafter simply named “Interpretation”), which clarified that cyberspace is public space, and that online order is an important component part of social and public order, it defined crime and punishment yardsticks for online defamation and other such acts, unified standards for judicial organs’ handling of corresponding criminal cases, and at the same time ensured that people understand that only if the law is obeyed in cyberspace, citizens’ rights can be guaranteed. As soon as the “Interpretation” was published, all walks of society paid close attention to it and responded enthusiastically to it. This journalist specially interviews the Supreme People’s Court Judicial Committee Full-Time Member Gao Jinghong, and asked him to explain some hot points and questions.
Q: As the “Interpretation” punishes the use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes according to the law, how is this reflected in legal protection for citizens’ lawful rights and interests?
A: One point must be made clear first, online defamation cannot be confused with free speech. At present, information networks have become an important platform for public interaction. Free speech is a basic right of citizens provided in our country’s constitution, the broad popular masses’ expressing the popular will, paying attention to social hot sports and incidents, and conducting public opinion supervision through online posting are important methods by which citizens exercise their right of free speech and participate in national political life. Citizens’ expressing discourse on information according to the law and exercising the rights endowed by the Constitution, are protected by the laws of our country. The Party and the government are able to understand social situations, the emotions of the masses and netizens’ opinions and suggestions concerning public affairs through all sorts of information and debates online.
But discourse on information networks is not without boundaries. At the same time that citizens exercise their right of expression, they cannot touch the bottom line that the law has instituted with regards to free speech. “Free speech” does not mean “free rumours”, free speech on information networks is not without borders. No country’s laws will permit “free speech” that defames other persons. A freedom that is not limited will lead to chaos due to a lack of rules, and the end result will be that a good free speech order will be challenged and even destroyed, that public platforms on which citizens express opinions, advice and suggestions become places with a pestilent atmosphere where others are attacked, abused and slandered.
After the “Interpretation” was published, there was a sort of voice that believed that the publication of the “Interpretation” was intended to suppress the space for online free speech, and was even intended to attack or retaliate against critics or people raising suggestions, this sort of understanding is incorrect. For example, in the “Criminal Law Revision Draft (8)”, it is provided that drink-driving must be “criminalized”, the objective for this was not to limit everyone driving cars onto the roads, but was intended to limit specific individuals to drive cars onto the road in a dangerous manner, thus safeguarding traffic order and safety, and thereby protecting the majority of the people to drive cars onto the roads in an even safer manner. As a similar rationale, the “Interpretation” persists in the principle of statutory punishment and strict criminal standards, and will not deal with those who disseminate false information online without knowing the truth, and with acts of expressing extreme or even inaccurate critical opinions on the internet, in a criminal manner. Therefore, the publication of the “Interpretation” cannot be intended to “control” online discourse, but is intended to protect the broad citizens’ right to expression and to realize free speech in the true sense of the term.
The “Interpretation” has provided clear boundaries concerning the ways of action in using information networks to commit criminal defamation, it has provided concrete and clear legal bases for attacking this sort of criminal activity according to the law. At the same time, it has also clarified the legal boundaries of expression and speech on information networks, to make it clear to people which speech can be expressed and which speech infringes the law, it thereby guarantees that the broad popular masses can fully exercise the right of expression and the right of supervision endowed to them by the Constitution, according to the law, and it protects the freedom of speech of the broad popular masses to the largest extent.
Q: At present, “online anti-corruption” has become an important channel of public opinion supervision. How does the “Interpretation” differentiate between online anti-corruption and criminal defamation?
A: At present, the broad netizens use information networks to conduct “online anti-corruption” and “Weibo anti-corruption”, which has had a positive effect in anti-corruption and pro-honesty work. Some corruption cases have been brought to light first on networks, they have attracted the high attention of the relevant departments and have been timely dealt with afterwards. We attack online crime, but cannot give up at the slightest obstacle or smother the vitality of the network, we can certainly not block communication paths and suppress critical voices, this sort of worry is unnecessary.
With regards to the broad popular masses reporting or exposing other persons’ unlawful or undisciplinary acts through information networks, relevant departments shall deal with this earnestly, verify them responsibly, and timely publish the investigation results. Even if a part of the reported or exposed content is inaccurate, as long as there is no wilful concoction of facts to defame others, or where it does not fall into the category of clearly knowing that facts are concocted to defame others, and disseminating them on information networks, they should not pursue criminal liability for defamation. But against those acts of wilful concoction of facts to defame others under the pretence of “online anti-corruption”, and especially organized activities of defaming others on a large scale, it is necessary to firmly pursue criminal liability according to the law.
At the same time that judicial organs attack online rumours, clean up the online space and transmit positive energy, they must strictly grasp the boundaries of laws and policies. They must both attack unlawful and criminal activities of using reporting to commit defamation, and must prevent that accidental injury occurs to those informers who vigorously conduct public opinion supervision and who do not have the intent to defame, especially reports where a part of the reported content is inaccurate. Thereby, they must guarantee the organic unity of attacking criminal defamation and guaranteeing citizens’ exercise of the right to supervision, and guarantee that every case can stand the test of the law and history.
Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world
October 13, 2013. By Xinhua writer Liu Chang
BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.
Emerging from the bloodshed of the Second World War as the world’s most powerful nation, the United States has since then been trying to build a global empire by imposing a postwar world order, fueling recovery in Europe, and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.
With its seemingly unrivaled economic and military might, the United States has declared that it has vital national interests to protect in nearly every corner of the globe, and has been habituated to meddling in the business of other countries and regions far away from its shores.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.
Under what is known as the Pax-Americana, we fail to see a world where the United States is helping to defuse violence and conflicts, reduce poor and displaced population, and bring about real, lasting peace.
Moreover, instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.
As a result, the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites, while bombings and killings have become virtually daily routines in Iraq years after Washington claimed it has liberated its people from tyrannical rule.
Most recently, the cyclical stagnation in Washington for a viable bipartisan solution over a federal budget and an approval for raising debt ceiling has again left many nations’ tremendous dollar assets in jeopardy and the international community highly agonized.
Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.
To that end, several corner stones should be laid to underpin a de-Americanized world.
For starters, all nations need to hew to the basic principles of the international law, including respect for sovereignty, and keeping hands off domestic affairs of others.
Furthermore, the authority of the United Nations in handling global hotspot issues has to be recognized. That means no one has the right to wage any form of military action against others without a UN mandate. Apart from that, the world’s financial system also has to embrace some substantial reforms.
The developing and emerging market economies need to have more say in major international financial institutions including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, so that they could better reflect the transformations of the global economic and political landscape.
What may also be included as a key part of an effective reform is the introduction of a new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.
Of course, the purpose of promoting these changes is not to completely toss the United States aside, which is also impossible. Rather, it is to encourage Washington to play a much more constructive role in addressing global affairs.
Gravity and American Exceptionlism in Outer Space
by Lauren Lyons. HuffPo. Posted: 10/22/2013 9:37 am
By now, you have already seen the new space thriller, Gravity (spoilers ahead). You may herald the tension as the astronauts dodge terrifying high-speed space debris, or praise its scientific accuracy (or inaccuracy). But there is another more subtle theme to appreciate: the multi-national cooperative — and uncooperative — nature of space exploration.
The International Space Station (ISS) makes several dramatic appearances. And Russia’s Soyuz gets a starring role as its ill-fated escape vehicle, making a decent showing despite heavy damage from the rogue space junk.
And it should be no surprise: Soyuz is currently the United States’ sole method for shuttling its astronauts to the ISS (though Gravity is set in a parallel reality where the Space Shuttle is still flying), and after nearly 30 years in operation, it’s also the most cost-effective and reliable human space transport system to date.
Gone are the days of Russia vs. the U.S.
But ever-present are the days of the U.S. vs. China.
When Soyuz takes a beating too intense to go on, Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Stone must shuttle to China’s Shenzhou re-entry capsule, believed to have survived the catastrophe. But unlike Soyuz, Shenzhou is not docked to the ISS; China is not welcome aboard. Instead, it has its own station, Tiangong, situated in a separate orbit.
An interesting parable: isolated, yet still there, and pushing on, whether part of the team or not.
It turns out that Shenzhou’s re-entry sequence is identical to that of Soyuz (Russia sold much of its own technology to China in the ’90s), so Stone is able to pilot Shenzhou — despite extensive damage — safely back to Earth. No trite “Made in China” jokes here.
An American astronaut in a Chinese space ship? This truly is the stuff of science fiction, because it may just take a disaster of Gravity’s proportions for that to happen.
Earlier this month, American researchers announced they would boycott a major NASA conference because scientists who are Chinese nationals are banned from attending. The policy — which was recently reversed amid pressure from the international community — was a result of NASA’s interpretation of the moratorium on Chinese nationals’ access to its facilities following this year’s espionage indictment of Bo Jiang, a NASA contractor and Chinese national. He was eventually found innocent of spying, but still, Bo, the remaining 192 Chinese contractors who worked at NASA, and all further Chinese nationals were denied access.
Adding further fuel to the fire is the law which makes it illegal for NASA “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company.” The legislation’s biggest champion, long-time China critic Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), grounds his rationale in espionage fears, China’s human rights record, and the idea that “we don’t want to give them the opportunity to take advantage of our technology, and we have nothing to gain from dealing with them.” It’s no wonder Tiangong is in another orbit.
Yet, still, China charges on.
And they do so with the backing of much of the international community. Two weeks ago, I attended the International Astronautical Congress held this year in Beijing. The Chinese space program was proudly on display, and international agencies eagerly arranged meetings with the rapidly developing program.
One panel featured the heads of the world’s space agencies, including China’s Dr. Ma Xingrui and NASA Administrator General Charlie Bolden. While positive overall, there were still some uncomfortable moments. Like when Administrator Bolden pronounced that the United States has “the best space program in the world.” Awkward.
You could see the eyes rolling on stage, and hear the disapproving murmurs in the crowd.
That statement was made in front of thousands of people. On the same stage with all those “lesser” space programs. As a guest in a country that many would argue is kicking America’s butt in space. A country that, unlike America, is one of only two with manned space flight capability, and is so critical a player that the European Space Agency has its astronauts learning to speak Chinese. READ MORE…
Pan Jiahua on three decades of urbanisation in China
China has gained more than it has lost over the last 30 years of urbanisation, says Pan Jiahua, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies
China is now in a period of late industrialisation involving rapid urbanisation (Image by Peter Morgan)
chinadialogue (CD): How do you view the record of urbanisation in China over the last 30 years?
Pan Jiahua (PJ): There’s been a lot of success, we’ve innovated, and there’s been a lot we’ve had to learn. Overall, there have been both successes and failures – but more success.
We should recognise the benefits this period of urbanisation has brought.
First, urbanisation has been driven by industrialisation, and that’s meant faster economic development and growth, and rising incomes. Urbanisation has allowed for qualitative improvement in the Chinese economy, something that agriculture or the traditional service industry could not have provided.
Second, China has been transformed by huge amounts of new infrastructure: urban infrastructure such as water supplies, waste water treatment, roads and power; regional infrastructure such as airports, ports and expressways; social goods such as schools and hospitals; communications infrastructure such as fibre optic and other networks; as well as commercial and environmental infrastructure.
Third, urbanisation gathers resources together, allowing for greater efficiency, better competitiveness, and economies of scale. Without urbanisation China’s environment might be in an even worse state. After urbanisation Beijing’s economy is tens of times larger than before – despite the fact that there hasn’t been any increase in total water resources available.
Fourth, lifestyles have seen huge changes. That new infrastructure has allowed large numbers of people to leave farming for better lives in the cities.
Five, urbanisation has made for a more open China. In the past many Chinese cities were effectively cut off from the outside world. Today almost every provincial capital has international flights, whereas 30 years ago Beijing was China’s only international airport. Of course, a high price has been paid for this progress.
First, there has been a social cost. The generations of children and elderly left behind in villages by migrant workers since the 1980s have a bleak existence. Discrimination, unequal access to social services, the income gap – the benefits of urbanisation have not accrued to all those who have contributed to it, and the vulnerable have borne more of the costs.
Second is the pollution and destruction of the environment. Now we have water pollution, air pollution, pollution from heavy metals, damaged ecosystems – none of these can be dealt with quickly. Four hundred of China’s six hundred cities lack water.
Third, we’ve damaged and become disconnected from our history and culture. We knock things down on a whim and relocate everyone – all our cities look the same, there’s nothing unique about them.
CD: What unique characteristics has urbanisation in China had?
PJ: First, it has been driven by industrialisation, which has meant more rapid and wider-scale urbanisation. We set up lots of zones: industrial zones, high-tech zones, development zones, Special Economic Zones… Shenzhen originally had a population of 200,000 – now it’s 10 million. A scarcity of labour meant people moved to the cities to fill those jobs. It’s hard to imagine the way we created those zones happening anywhere else – it was entirely normal to create new zones of 3,000 or 5,000 mu.
Second, China’s system of distinguishing urban and rural residents reduced the costs of urbanisation. Migrant workers from rural areas were not eligible for social services, and so money which should have been spent on them was saved. There are historical reasons for this system, and it did reduce the costs of urbanisation – but it also had disadvantages, such as creating discrimination.
Third, China’s strong government meant problems which blight other cities were avoided. We have no slums as we were able to force through redevelopment of the older parts of our cities, public order was strictly enforced, and when necessary factories were shut down to improve the environment. Other countries can’t do that.
CD: China went through a stage where industrialisation was happening faster than urbanisation, but now urbanisation is the driver. How would you divide China’s urbanisation into stages, in order to better understand the current situation and our challenges?
PJ: The first stage is a natural process that has occurred since feudal times, as shopkeepers and tradesmen cluster together.
The second stage is when industrialisation and urbanisation interact, during labour-intensive industrialisation. In the 20 years of reform and opening up prior to 1998, industrialisation was powered by the expansion of labour-intensive sectors. Factories were built in cities, and workers moved to the cities for work. Comparatively little land or financial input was needed, and there wasn’t much construction of infrastructure. Urbanisation and industrialisation went hand in hand, and urbanisation wasn’t particularly fast. During that period the issues of urbanisation we argue about today weren’t a problem. We could call this the early stage of industrialisation.
Then came industrialisation characterised by expansion of the heavy chemical and resource-intensive sectors. After 1998 capital replaced labour as the driving force, and capital requires more land. This lead to the various types of zones I mentioned, and industrialisation proceeded more quickly than urbanisation.
China is now in a fourth stage, late industrialisation. This is characterised by shifts between sectors, with expansion slowing, more rapid population movement to the cities, assimilation of the rapid expansion of earlier stages, rapid growth of the service sector, a shift to value-added industries and restructuring.
The fifth stage, post-industrialisation, sees the industrial sector stabilise and then contract, further efficiency improvements, large service sector expansion, and urbanisation far outstripping industrialisation.
CD: So what’s new about the “new urbanisation”?
PJ: It’s about how you change – not by expanding, but by improving, shifting from heavy industry to light industry, from low added-value to high added-value, from depending on investment and overseas demand, to relying on domestic demand.
How are we going to generate domestic demand if we have huge numbers of people living in factory dormitories? We need to move them into houses to create consumer demand. If they prefer to save up their wages and go back to their villages to build a house and retire rather than live in the cities, then our social development and social security are failing.
The problem now is that resource monopolies are enjoying huge profits and are tied up with political power. But the changes in urbanisation bring about social benefits, and legislation, openness and transparency puts interest groups under pressure, while social benefits become more prominent. When some individual interests are too big, social interests may suffer.
“The use of Tibetan is becoming more and more IT-based. Computer coding of Tibetan characters has met the national and international standards. Through the Internet, mobile phones and other means, Tibetans can read, listen to and watch domestic and international news and get all types of information, which has become part of their daily life,” it says.
Meanwhile, the local government has made the development of traditional Tibetan medicine a key part of its health care strategy. Cultural relics and historic sites have been effectively preserved in Tibet, and freedom of religious belief has been respected and protected, according to the white paper.
“The State respects and protects their freedom in attending normal religious service, performing sacrificial rituals, and taking part in major religious activities and folk festivals,” the white paper says.
Currently, Tibet has 1,787 places for different religious activities, more than 46,000 resident monks and nuns, and 358 Living Buddhas, it says, adding a majority of people in Tibet believe in Tibetan Buddhism.
“Traditional religious activities such as scripture learning and debate, degree promotion, initiation into monkhood or nunhood, abhisheka (empowerment ceremony) and self-cultivation are held on a regular basis,” it says.
So far, more than 40 incarnated Living Buddhas have been confirmed through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions.
Regarding religious management, the white paper says the State upholds the policy of separating religion from government, and “it prohibits religion from intervening in the country’s administration, justice system and education, and allows no individual or organization to use religion for illegal activities.”
(Global Times) The Chinese government on Tuesday issued a white paper on west China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, detailing its comprehensive development and rapid progress over the past 60-plus years.
“The development and progress in modern Tibet results from the innate logic of its social and historical environment, and has its roots in China’s progress in a larger context,” says the white paper, released by the Information Office of the State Council under the title “Development and Progress of Tibet.”Describing the region prior to the 1950s “as dark and backward as medieval Europe,” the white paper notes in the foreword that Tibet was a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule, a society characterized by a combination of political and religious powers.
According to the white paper, after a series of key historical stages including peaceful liberation, democratic reform, the establishment of the autonomous region and the reform and opening-up drive, the Tibetan people have gained freedom, equality and dignity, and are fully enjoying the fruits of modern civilization. With six chapters, the white paper elaborates Tibet’s development over the past six decades in the fields of economy, people’s livelihoods, political systems, cultural preservation, religious freedom and environmental protection, among others.
Figures from the white paper show that the per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet had maintained double-digit growth for 10 consecutive years, reaching 5,719 yuan (944 US dollars) in 2012. The per capita disposable income of urban dwellers in the region was 18,028 yuan. Also, the gross regional product of the area rocketed from 129 million yuan in 1951 to 70.1 billion last year, marking an annual growth of 8.5 percent on average. From 1952 to 2012, the central government appropriated 454.34 billion yuan to Tibet as financial subsidies, taking up 96 percent of the accumulated fiscal expenditures of the local government since it was founded. Meanwhile, under a “pairing-up” support program launched by the central government in 1994, various provinces, municipalities, central government departments and major state-owned enterprises have provided personnel, materials, financial and technological support to Tibet. In addition to economic progress, the central government pays great attention to protecting the Tibetan language and ensuring local religious activities.
By the end of 2012, there were 282,914 primary school pupils and 177,981 middle school students receiving bilingual education — with Tibetan as the principal language — accounting for 96.88 percent and 90.63 percent of the total respectively in Tibet, it says.”Traditional religious activities such as scripture learning and debate, degree promotion, initiation into monkhood or nunhood, abhisheka (empowerment ceremony) and self-cultivation are held on a regular basis,” it says. So far, more than 40 incarnated living Buddhas have been confirmed through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions. Read More about Tibet’s Culture
Cisco CEO says China will be ally
Computerworld - ORLANDO – This is a rough time for China in the U.S. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, plans to declare on “day one,” if elected, that China is a currency manipulator. A congressional report this month said Chinese intelligence gathering efforts amount to an “ongoing onslaught” against this country. The same report also identified two Chinese telecommunications firms as security risks.
The companies named in the U.S. House intelligence committee report – Huawei and ZTE — are rivals of Cisco Systems. (They denied the allegations, with Huawei arguing the report was based on rumor and speculation.)
But on the stage at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here, Cisco CEO John Chambers was far more sanguine about China than any government report or political position.
Chambers, who took questions from Gartner analysts, was asked whether the U.S. should be suspicious of Chinese IT companies. “No,” he said, explaining that “we have had problems with intellectual property protection in this country, with our peers, in Europe and other areas.
“We protect our intellectual property very carefully,” said Chambers. “At the same time, we partner in China, we build products in China. China should and will be an ally to the U.S. in my opinion, and you will see us interface with a number of Chinese companies.” Read more…