Translator: Weihan Shi, 师伟涵
A Qing historian reads the newspaper…
Published in 1990, this is the oldest book on the list, but remains a brilliant example of following a single – seemingly random – skein through the archives. Kuhn tugs the thread, and the political and social fabric of the era historians still refer to as the “High Qing” slowly starts to unravel page after page. Despite its reputation as a golden age in Chinese history, it soon becomes clear that all was not well in the empire during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The creeping calcification of the bureaucracy meant the government struggled to keep pace with an increasingly complex and mobile society, an ominous foreshadowing of the problems to come in China’s disastrous 19th century. The case in question starts as a simple incident of local mischief – the clipping of men’s braids/queues ostensibly for use by sorcerers – but the affair so shocked the increasingly paranoid Qianlong emperor that he engineered his own investigation, simultaneously trying to root out heterodox groups in Qing society while also hoping to shake his officials out of their complacency. Kuhn’s masterwork is an incredible, and highly readable, look at Qing society just as things started to turn for the worse.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK?
What’s interesting about the news article, below, from The People’s Daily is that it directly addresses Chinese people’s distrust of local government. Though 86% of Chinese trust and admire the central government, in some provinces there is trust a gap between them and local Party officials. (This is why Mao launched his Cultural Revolution and made officials answerable to local people. The problem remains.)
Americans’ distrust of their government has risen to an unsustainable level. Almost 82% distrust our Federal government and feel that it is heading in the wrong direction. Yet there is no address to this scandal, and no attempt at reform.
Valiant Shield was a US military war game held 19-24 June 2006 in the Pacific Ocean involving 22,000 personnel, 280 aircraft, and 30 ships, including the supercarriers USS Kitty Hawk, USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS Ronald Reagan. It was the largest US military exercise in Pacific waters since the Vietnam War, and the first time observers from the People’s Republic of China were allowed to view U.S. war games. China sent a ten-person delegation including one high-ranking officer each from its navy, army, and air force, as well as officials from its foreign ministry. According to USA Today, Chinese military observers said that observing the exercises gave them a better understanding of U.S. weapons and tactics. [Wikipedia]
Here are ten wonderful video documentaries on China. None of them comes close to ‘explaining’ China, or even depicting it. It takes 2-5 years to make and release a documentary, so all of these show a glimpse of recent history. By necessity, they are told from the Western point of view using a Western vocabulary. Taken together they convey a fascinating impression of the fast-moving giant. Several are available on streaming video and can be watched with a single mouse-click!
China From the Inside.
Yale’s Paul Kennedy defines grand strategy as “the capacity of the nation’s leaders to bring together all of the elements [of power], both military and nonmilitary, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation’s long-term (that is, in wartime and peacetime) best interests.” *
To this definition I would add “sustainable”. A strategy like military domination of the world is not sustainable and therefore, not grand.
In a Galaxy Far, Far Away
The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.
A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. Mao Zedong
Mao launched the 10-year Cultural Revolution in 1966. While vilified by both Western critics and subsequent Chinese administrations, the Cultural Revolution was a real revolution that empowered hundreds of millions of Chinese peasants. It was the introduction of democracy to China.
The Scientific Development Concept, or Scientific Development Perspective, is the current official guiding socio-economic philosophy of the Communist Party Of China. It was ratified into the CPC’s constitution in October 2007 under the leadership of President Hu Jintao. Key ideas include:
One recent author, writing about China, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, argues that it is more helpful to think in terms of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than George Orwell’s 1984 – “Orwell emphasises the role of fear in keeping people in line, while Huxley pays more attention to how needs and desires are created, manipulated and satisfied”. Yet this statement sounds too cynical, this article will reveal the Scientific Development Concept to be a genuinely idealistic vision of paternalistic government.
Imagine Britain had been invaded and occupied by armed forces from another region of the world with China, for example, as a significant ‘partner’ in the ‘coalition’. Imagine tens of thousands of Britons had been killed, and millions had fled as refugees. This is how the Chinese state broadcaster might report the invasion ten years hence:
‘It’s ten years this week since Chinese forces first became involved in Britain, and more than five years since theyassumed responsibility for south-east England. So what’s been achieved in that time?’