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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A captivating story of Shanghai and China set in the early 20th century

April 8, 2014

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones kept me reading late into the night until I finished the book in record time. It’s all there: love, intrigue, suspense, drama, music and history masterly woven through the story.

Thomas Greene is an African American classical pianist who is recruited by Lin Ming—the illegitimate son of the powerful leader of Shanghai’s Green Gang, Du Yue-Sheng—to leave the United States and lead a jazz band of fellow African-Americans in Shanghai. It’s in Shanghai where Thomas discovers a life that isn’t plagued by the poverty and the racial discrimination he knew in America, and he falls in love with the city and people with no intention of going home.

Thomas has a lusty affair with a beautiful Russian refugee and makes friends with Jews fleeing the madness of Hitler’s Germany. Then Thomas meets the woman who will fill his life with passion and love. Her name is Song Yuhua, but she is the property of Du Yeu-Sheng. Song’s father gave her to the gangster to pay off a gambling debt.

In addition, you’ll discover the story of the Chinese Schindler, who risked his life while working in Europe as a Chinese diplomat to save more Jews than the real Schindler did—there should be a film about his courage but at least we now have this novel.

You’ll also discover the efforts by both some Chinese and China’s Japanese invaders to protect the Jews who escaped to China. Hitler pressured both Chiang Kai-shek and Japan’s leaders to kill all the Jews in China, but they refused. Instead, they did something no other country on the earth—even the United States—did. Chinese leaders and Japan’s military leaders in China protected the Jews and offered them a safe haven during the horrors of World War II.

And I learned something new—that Chiang Kai-shek admired Adolf Hitler. This kicked my curiosity into high gear and I did some Google research to discover that Chiang Kai-shek and Hitler were friends who admired each other. The two first met in 1912. In 1913, they even rented a room together in Munich. After Japan invaded China, Chiang asked Hitler’s for help with the Japanese but he didn’t know that Hitler was already forming a military alliance with Japan. In fact, The Nationalist Chinese led by Chiang Kai-shek cooperated with the Nazis from the late 1920s until the late 1930s.

“Night in Shanghai” also makes it clear that the Chinese Communists under Mao were nationalists first and communists second. In my Google research I discovered that the communists proclaimed: “There is the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler, and there is our patriotism. Communists must resolutely oppose the ‘patriotism’ of the Japanese aggressors and of Hitler.”

The first character we meet in the novel is Song Yuhua. Near the end of the story, as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is imminent, she must choose between her loyalty to the Chinese Communists and her love for Thomas Greene. You’ll have to read the book to discover her choice.

I received an advanced reading copy of this novel through Amazon Vine and this review is my own opinion of the novel.

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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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Is Maoism still alive?

March 19, 2014

Caution—do not confuse Maoists with the Communist Party that currently rules China. Maoism, known as Mao Zedong thought, is a variant of Marxism derived from the teachings of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976). 

Maoism was widely applied as the political and military guiding ideology in the Communist Party between 1949 and 1976, which led to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution.

But according to France 24, a new generation of Maoists in China thinks the CCP has “betrayed their leader’s roots by succumbing to capitalism and world trade.” And these “Maoists are very active on Chinese social networks.”

The Maoists in China want to roll back time to Mao’s Cultural Revolution where pure socialism rules with no capitalism.

After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the Communist Party under Deng Xiaoping repudiated revolutionary Maoism and embarked on the path toward a socialist-capitalist economic model that has led to prosperity for several hundred million people in China but more Chinese are not benefiting equally from economic growth in China—at least not as fast as they’d like, which explains why Maoism has not vanished.


China’s last Maoist village

Outside China, Maoism’s Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) was founded in 1984 and included the Communist Party of Peru (also known as the “Shining Path”).

In addition, there have been Maoist movements in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Palestine, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Somalia, Turkey and even the United States (where poverty is increasing). However, the international Maoist movement doesn’t have a unified, global leadership.

Recently, the Chinese “Maoist” Communist Party thought they had a leader in Bo Xilai. Then in 2012, Bo was connected to a cover up linked to his wife’s involvement in the murder of a British citizen. Bo was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery, abuse of power and corruption. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of murder and was given a suspended death sentence. She may spend the rest of her life in prison or get out on a medical parole after serving nine years.

In 2009, the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal formed a coalition government, which collapsed a few months later as different rebel factions fought with each other. The Maoist’s goal was to turn Nepal into a Marxist Republic. (Nepal Assessment 2010)

In India, there is an ongoing Naxalite-Maoist rebellion in Andhra Pradesh but by the end of 2013, the movement was weak and not the threat it had been years earlier. The Maoist influence in India was caused by the lack of progress to end starvation among rural Indians—thousands die daily—who have had no improvement in their lifestyles for decades. (Naxalite-Maoist insurgency)

In the US, the Black Panthers (1967) was a militant Maoist organization.

In Paris in 1968, the National Liberation Front, another Maoist group, was the cause of street combat.

Maoism is caused by too much poverty and suffering when the poor working class rises up in rebellion against the wealthy in an attempt to distribute the wealth more evenly, but historically this has led to brutal dictatorships and then more suffering and death.

Pure socialism hasn’t worked because historically, it’s inefficient, against the competitive nature of humans and leads to shortages and a waste of workers time.

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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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Organized Religions in China

February 19, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner once said, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer difficult questions: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” Source: Theocracy Watch

The answer to Justice O’Conner’s question may be the reason why China’s government keeps such a close watch on religions and decides which ones may practice there. In fact, there’s plenty of historical evidence that China’s restrictions on religions may be justified.

For instance, Roman Catholic Popes influenced the kings of Europe leading to the Crusades (1095 – 1291) with 1 to 3 million dead; the persecution and eradication of the Cathars, and the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman inquisitions.

Then there were the Protestant-Catholic Wars: the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) with 3 to 11.5 million dead and the French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598) with 2 to 4 million dead.

Next there are the major modern Islamic-Christian wars: The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) with 1 to 3 million dead; Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) with 1 to 2 million dead, and the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990) with 120 – 250 thousand dead.

Last there’s China’s Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) led by converted Chinese Christians against the Qing Dynasty with 30 to 100 million dead.

You may have noticed from the few examples that religions with too much political influence and power do not have a good track record.

Then consider how many major religions there are. Why does it have to be so complicated? After all, there’s only one God—I think.

As it is, “China is a country with a great diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism… According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.” Source: Chinese Culture

If you visited the previous link, you discovered that China does allow people to worship God and join a few approved closely watched religions.

Reuters.com reports: “About half of China’s estimated 100 million religious followers are Christians or Muslims, with the rest Buddhists or Taoists, the government says, though it thinks the real number of believers is probably much higher.”

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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 Private World of Politics Inside China

February 11, 2014

This will probably rankle some, but the world of politics inside China isn’t that much different from the United States. Where the U.S. has two major parties and several splinter parties with little or no political power no matter how loud they shout, China has one major political party and several splinter parties without political power.

But what goes on inside the Chinese Communist Party mirrors what goes on between the GOP and the Democrats—when I say mirrors, I mean there are factions that debate and disagree with each other.

What the world sees in China is a government that seems to be walking in step but under the surface there are a lot of different opinions and debates taking place behind closed doors. In the end, like all republics—instead of one man making all the decisions—a consensus usually makes the final decision on important issues.

The biggest difference with the CCP is that any disagreements and arguments between factions are not for public consumption through the media like it is in the political circus that makes up American politics.

“It’s worth remembering that China has parties other than the Chinese Communist Party, although this does not make China a ‘multi-party state’ in the sense of the term. But observing how the CCP interacts with these other groupings can be revealing.”  (Sino-Gist)

The following list represents the eight registered minor political parties in China:

1. Revolutionary Committee of Kuomintang that’s considered second in status to the CCP has 53,000 members.

2. China’s Democratic League formed by 130,000 members, mainly mid-level and senior intellectuals.

3. Representing market socialism is the China Democratic national Construction Association that was formed by 69,000 members.

4. China Association for Promoting Democracy with about 65,000 members.

5. Chinese Peasants’ and Workers’ Democratic Party with 65,000 members

6. Zhigongdang of China: Returned overseas Chinese with 15,000 members

7. Jiusan Society with 68.000 members

8. Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League with 1,600 people mostly wealthy Taiwanese who now live on the mainland.

There is also the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) that was established in 1949 when the CCP legally made women equal to men for the first time in China’s history.  I wrote about that in Women’s Rights in China.

Then there’s the China Youth League (founded in 1920 with more than 73 million members today) and other representatives from people’s organizations; representatives of the People’s Liberation Army; and representatives of minority ethnic groups that have a population of over 1 million each. (China.org)

Another segment of the population where the CCP recruits new members, are freshly minted millionaires and billionaires of China’s successful capitalists—after an exhaustive background check probably similar to the CIA or FBI.

Many from the political list mentioned earlier may not belong to the CCP or have voting rights, but they have a voice. Just as most western corporate business is conducted on a golf course, in China these nonvoting members may express themselves at meals and banquets with CCP voting members.

These non-voting members are sort of like lower management in a corporation who take advantage to express their opinions and suggestions, with no guarantee that the majority of the CCP will agree.

In fact, non-party members, who are of a like mind, may be noticed and possibly asked to join the party, which is an invitation few in China reject since it means joining the more than 80 million that rule the country.

The Journal of Current Chinese Affairs reports: “China’s emerging bipartisanship within the CCP, therefor, is not only a mechanism of power-sharing through checks and balances among competing political camps, but also entails a more dynamic and pluralistic decision-making process through which political leaders can represent various social and geographic constituencies.”

In addition, “the diverse demographic and political backgrounds of China’s new leaders can also be considered a positive development that may contribute to the Chinese-style inner-Party democracy.” (The Chinese Communist Party: Recruiting and Controlling the New Elites)

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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.

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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