Corruption in Asia and the Power of the Peasant in China

April 29, 2014

Corruption is a fact-of-life in Asia, and China may be one of the few countries in Asia doing something about it.

The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2013 reveals most of Asia is “very” corrupt—the smaller number is better and 175 is the worst global ranking, and that infamy is shared between Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.

Of 177 countries ranked for corruption, Myanmar (Burma) was ranked 157; Iraq 171; Laos 140; Cambodia 160; Vietnam 116, and Indonesia 114.

Even India, the world’s largest democracy, was ranked 94. Singapore, by comparison, is 5th—one of the least corrupt countries in the world and it’s tied with Norway. The countries with the least corruption in the world were Denmark tied with New Zeeland. Third place goes to Finland and Sweden, another tie.

Thailand, another democracy, was ranked 102, but China—you know—the country that gets so much bad press in the United States for corruption, was ranked 80th—55% of the world’s countries were rated worse.

The power of the Chinese peasant demonstrated in this video may have something to do with China’s improved score as one of the least corrupt nations in East Asia. Few were better than China. South Korea was ranked 46 and Japan 18 which is better than the United States at 19.

It may come as a surprise to many Western critics but in rural China, democracy’s ballot box has been active at the village level since the mid-1980s. In fact, in 1997, The Independent reported that China’s rural peasants were discovering the power of the ballot box.

“Under Communist Party rule, village elections are the only example of one-person, one-vote democracy in China. Launched in the mid-eighties, they were originally introduced to replace the village communes that were dissolved after the Cultural Revolution.”

Few outside China have heard of China’s rural democracy. Nearly one million villages with 600 million Chienese hold elections and each time there is an election, the peasants learn more about democracy in action.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The Double Standard of Blind Justice – Does it apply in China?

April 23, 2014

First, to keep this issue in perspective: USA Today reported (back in November 2013) that “Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S.”

USA Today said, “Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes (this means someone was killed) is trending upward, from 1,274 in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.”

Now to China (which usually gets roasted in the US media without any balance or perspective)—ChinaSMACK said a foreigner driving drunk and without a license, hit a 23-year old Yiwu girl crossing a street in a crosswalk.

If you believe the Chinese media is completely controlled and censored, you may be surprised to learn that ChinaSMACK is a daily-updated collection of translated Internet content from the Chinese-language Internet.

ChinaSMACK (launched in 2008) covers stories, pictures, videos, and topics that have become very popular and have spread across China’s major BBS forums, social networking websites, or through forwarded e-mails sent between normal Chinese people every day.

ChinaSMACK attracts millions of visits and page views each month featuring a vibrant community of commenters.

ChinaSMACK did not identify the foreigner (laowai), who was driving drunk without a license. The victim was thrown over 20 meters (more than 65 feet), and she died in the hospital.

The laowai sped away from the scene to avoid being caught, but the Chinese police tracked him down and arrested him. The victim’s family is poor and her father died three years ago.

The first two comments to the ChinaSMACK post said, “If you had hit a person, you too would be arrested and administratively detained first and then what should be done will be done. Laowai cannot escape Chinese legal punishment.”

“Our country’s criminal law does not put foreigners outside of our country’s criminal law. As long as the foreigner does something that matches a crime in our country’s criminal law, then the foreigner cannot escape the criminal laws punishment.”


This news clip talks about drunk driving and hit-and-run accidents in China

The next story is about the killing of a 20-year-old college girl in another hit-and-run.  When confronted, it was reported that the drunk driver (Li Qiming) yelled, “My father is Li Gang!” Li Gang was a high-ranking police officer and a member of the Communist Party. The victim was the daughter of a 49-year-old peasant from rural China.

The father of the victim said in an interview, “I’m just a peasant.  If it is unfair, let it be.”

However, an angry Chinese public on the Internet overruled the victim’s father and refused to “let it be.”  Although there have been many hit-and-run accidents in Hubei province, there was anger at China’s powerful elite and the arrogance of some children of money and power.

If you want to learn more about the rich, powerful and famous escaping punishment for horrible crimes, read Celebrity Justice: Prison Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Matt Clarke writes: “There are two criminal justice systems in the United States. One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms, who make campaign contributions to sheriffs, legislators and other elected officials, and who enjoy certain privileges due to their celebrity status or the size of their bank accounts. The other justice system is for everybody else.”

And then ask: Is there a difference between China and America when it comes to justice for the rich and famous?

You be the judge: In January 2011, Li Qiming was arrested for the hit and run and sentenced to six years in jail and ordered to pay the equivalent of $69,900 in compensation to the family of Chen Xiaofeng. Li was also ordered to pay $13,800 to the injured woman.

In addition, to crack down on corruption, in 2004, the CCP enacted strict regulations on party officials assuming positions in business. In 2009, for instance, 106,000 CCP officials were found guilty of corruption, an increase of 2.5% from the previous year.

How about the United States? During the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency, for instance, one member of his White House staff was convicted of obstruction of justice and sent to prison, but Bush commuted the sentence. In Congress, during that time, three Democrats and five Republicans were convicted of crimes of corruption. Meanwhile, the average wealth of members of the U.S. Senate went from $1.5 million in 2004 to $2.6 million by 2010 with a slight setback during the 2007-08 global financial crises that was caused by corruption on Wall Street and from U.S Banks thanks to legislation overwhelmingly passed by Congress during the Clinton presidency. And former Vice President (2001 – 2009) Dick Cheney’s Halliburton made $38.5 Billion off the Iraq War. When Cheney became vice president under Bush, he was given a $34 million dollar bonus from Halliburton.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 1 of 2

February 4, 2014

My wife bought a DVD of Ai Weiwei NEVER SORRY, a documentary film by Allison Klayman that was well done but obviously produced with the intent to portray Ai Weiwei as a hero and Communist China as evil.

Ai Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist-activist who was selected as the designer of the Beijing Olympic Bird’s Nest, and he is also an outspoken critic of China’s Communist government.

The film won a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Best Storytelling in a Documentary at the 2012 Nantucket Film Festival; the NBR Award from the 2012 National Board of Review, USA; Festival Director’s Choice Award from the 2012 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, and the Students’ Choice Award from The 2012 Hague Movies that Matter Festival.

But—before judging if Weiwei is a hero or the film deserves the awards—I suggest you read this post (and maybe some of the linked sources) then decide if this film deserves the praise.

 

Weiwei’s advocacy for democracy and more transparency in China has attracted much attention in the Western media but how popular is his movement? For instance, he only has 233,510 followers [that’s 0.000176% of the population of China] on his Mandarin Twitter page where he is very active with more than 100,000 Tweets posted. There is also a Free Ai WeiWei Blog on Twitter with about 500 followers. Then there is an English Twitter page with 28,767 followers.

Ai Weiwei lived in the United States [1981 – 1993] to study art but dropped out of school and made a living drawing street portraits and working odd jobs. The film also reveals he had a boy with a young mistress/concubine while still married to artist Lu Qing. If he had one affair and isn’t sorry about that, why not more affairs with other women?

Weiwei’s father was a high ranking Communist Party member before becoming a victim of the teenage Red Guard during Mao’s Cultural Revolution—there are clips in the documentary that show this—and the film mentions that his father attempted suicide a number of times because of the persecution [that was happening to millions of Chinese]. It’s obvious that this experience had an impact on who Weiwei is today and why he publicly criticizes the CCP.

I couldn’t help but question where all the money comes from that supports his lavish lifestyle. For instance, there was one exhibition in London where his art was a field of ceramic hand-painted sunflower seeds—100 million according to Weiwei. Celebrity NetWorth/BBC, reported that those seeds sold for $US 782,000—that’s 4.733 million Chinese Yuan Renminbi.

HyperAllergic.com reported: “Production for creating so many seeds was an intensive and meticulous process taking two years and 1,600 factory workers to complete; it seems that when artists use factory workers it is conceptually engaging, but when Apple does it it is infuriating, neither of which seem to hinder sales.”

In the film, one of Weiwei’s criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) focuses on one incident where he alleged he was beaten by a police officer in Chengdu while investigating the collapse of public schools in Sichuan province after the 8.0 earthquake in 2008.

I don’t question that Weiwei was attacked by one cop in Chengdu, but is that incident an indictment of the CCP? For instance, Copblock.org reports that in the United States from April 2009 to June 2010 there were 5,986 reports of misconduct by police officers recorded and 382 fatalities linked to misconduct leading to about $347.5 million in settlements and judgments. If the CCP is guilty of abuse from one cop, then so is the United States Congress and the President of the United States for misconduct of police in America.

And police brutality is not exclusive to the United States or China. If we check the 10 Most Brutal Police Forces on Earth, we discover that the United States was ranked #10 and China #9. Mexico earned the number one spot.

Continued on February 5, 2014 in Ai WeiWei is probably NEVER SORRY for anything he says or does: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 2 of 2

January 22, 2014

We must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out, we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were often not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel—the property of men to be bought and sold at will for any reason—as they had for thousands of years and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would rule the country. Most of the people in China would have no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections—only CCP members vote in national elections but at last count, there were 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms. And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed by the major political parties in the United States. This means that the American people have no say in the few hundred who elect the U.S. President.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism—not Christianity, Islam or Judaism—and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

Return to or start with Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 1

Discover three of China’s other republics; then decide how they are different from China.

  _______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 1 of 2

January 21, 2014

China is often criticized for not being a democracy with the same freedom of expression that the 1st Amendment of the United States offers its citizens.

However, no one considers that the political structure of today’s China might be closer to Sun Yat-sen’s vision than the democracy we find in the United States. In fact, the China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may offer the Chinese people more of a voice than the republic Sun Yat-sen was building before his death.

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925], considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, was introduced to the United States in 1882 when he attended a Christian school in Hawaii. That experience exposed him to American politics, and later he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

To learn about the United States that Sun Yat-sen discovered, we must step back and examine America’s political structure at that time.

“After the British were defeated a centralized, national government was seen by George Washington and company not as a method of extending freedom and the right to vote, but as a way of keeping control in the hands of rich. They wrote several anti-democratic provisions into the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was institutionalized. The Senate was not to be elected directly by the people; rather Senators were to be appointed by state legislatures. The President was not to be directly elected by the voters, but elected through an electoral college. The Supreme Court was to be appointed. Only the House of Representatives was elected directly.” (http://www.williampmeyers.org/republic.html)

In 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections. Where was Sun when this happened? He was in China leading a rebellion and struggling to build a multi-party republic that included the Communist and Nationalist parties. His ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades earlier.

The political climate that existed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will show us what Sun learned about politics in the United States. For instance, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in the spring of 1882 that was still in force. It wouldn’t be until 1942 that the act would be repealed.

In addition, in 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage could not become naturalized citizens. The following year the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians also could not become citizens, and the law that barred Native American’s from voting wasn’t removed until 1947.

How about the way children were treated in the United States?

It may shock some that children could be sold into slavery and end up working in factories, coal mines and whore houses as young as five. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that a federal law stopped this form of child slavery in the United States. America’s Civil War [1861 – 1865] may have ended black slavery but it didn’t free women and children of any race.

Continued on January 22, 2014 in Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 2

Discover three of China’s other republics; then decide how they are different from China.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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