The Republic that Wasn’t

October 23, 2013

Taiwan was a republic in name only until its first open democratic election in 1996; Chiang Kai-shek [1887 - 1975], the president-for-life that the United States supported, was a brutal dictator and a mass murderer.

I knew about Chiang Kai-shek being responsible for the Shanghai massacre of 1927—also known as the White Terror. It was this atrocity that launched the Civil War [1927 - 1936; 1946 - 1950] between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party. Before then, both parties were part of Sun Yat-sen’s Chinese republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, and it was his death that marked the beginning of the end of the republic he was building with several political parties.

Sun Yat-sen believed that three different political systems could co-exist: Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism.

Then by accident, I stumbled on a Blog about the “228 Massacre” in Taiwan in 1947 when Kuomintang soldiers under orders from Cheng Kai-shek slaughtered 30,000 Taiwanese citizens. It was the first time I’d heard of this incident. Source Blog: Patrick Cowsill

In comparison, when I Googled “Tiananmen Square protests”—about the so-called 1989 Massacre in Tiananmen Square—I discovered that, “Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest in Peking’s (Beijing) Tiananmen Square. Source: BBC

However, the Tiananmen Square protests did not start as a democracy protest—democracy was not a subject of the incident until college students joined the protests a few weeks into the incident started by Chinese workers protesting corruption in the government.

The “228 Massacre” was also a protest about government corruption in Taiwan.

Here’s what the BBC had to say about the Taiwan incident, “The event was an uprising sparked by the beating of a female vendor by authorities for selling untaxed cigarettes. Between 18,000 and 28,000 people are said to have been killed in riots and a subsequent crackdown.” Source: BBC

Compare the language.  When it was about the Communists, it was a “bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest” but when the killings were committed by an American ally ruled by a brutal dictator, it was “an uprising…sparked by the beating of a female vendor by authorities.”

Of course, we will always remember the man standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. Have you forgotten what happened in Taiwan yet?  If that man had stepped in front of a tank in Taiwan, he would have been road kill.

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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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The History of Chinese Poetry

October 2, 2013

Traditional Chinese Poetry is very similar to Western poetry.  Lines in Chinese poetry may have a fixed number of syllables and rhyme was required, so ancient Chinese poetry resembles traditional English verse and is not at all like the free verse in today’s Western culture.

Modern Chinese poets have written in free verse, but many still write with a strict form.

In the end, the form is not as important as what the poem says. Western poetry often focuses on love while painting an image of the poet as a lover.

Influenced by Confucius and Taoism, the ancient Chinese poet shows he or she is a friend—not a lover and often paints a picture of a poet’s life as a life of leisure without ambitions beyond writing poetry and having a good time.

According to legend, this Chinese poet killed himself to protest the corruption of the time, and it is said that the Dragon Boat Festival was named to honor his sacrifice.

Battle
By Qu Yuan (332-295 B.C.)

We grasp our battle-spears: we don our breastplates of hide.
The axles of our chariots touch: our short swords meet.
Standards obscure the sun: the foe roll up like clouds.
Arrows fall thick: the warriors press forward.
They menace our ranks: they break our line.
The left-hand trace-horse is dead: the one on the right
is smitten.
The fallen horses block our wheels: they impede the
yoke-horses?”

Translated by Arthur Waley 1919

Note: The translation process from Mandarin to English would insure that the fixed number of syllables and rhyme required  of a traditional Chinese poem in its original language would not survive, but the contextual meaning should.

Discover China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

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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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5/5

January 9, 2012

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, his concept of a republic would have been very different from what the American democracy looks like today.

In addition, members of the U.S. Senate were not elected to office by the popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was amended to provide for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun Yat-sen were aware of the details of America’s political history and its limitation by the time he left Hawaii at the age of 17 in 1883, the republic and/or democracy he envisioned for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including all women.

In addition, by 1903, when Sun Yat-sen returned to Hawaii looking for support for his dream of a future republic and/or democracy in China, Hawaii was no longer a republic but was a territory of the United States—not a state—and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic and/or democracy Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China may possibly have included at last one House as a National Congress with its members appointed by the elected legislatures of each province, and women would have been excluded from voting and possibly considered the property of men as women were in the United States at that time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic and/or democracy where the citizens elected China’s leader with a popular vote of the people since Hawaii’s Constitution of 1864 charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king, who was King Kalākaua—the one forced to sign the 1887 Constitution four years after the young Sun Yat-sen returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and now, it is easier to accept that the Chinese Communist Party’s 1982 Constitution created a government in China closer—and maybe even better—than what Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China.

How could Sun Yat-sen have envisioned a republic and/or democracy similar to what the United States has today in the 21st century?

In fact, under a Sun Yat-sen republic, children in China might still be considered the property of parents as they were in the United States until the 1938 Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Before 1938, parents in the US had the right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

In addition, writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is “the delegation of the government [in a republic] to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.

When James Madison wrote this, the number of US citizens allowed to vote in federal elections was limited to white property owners (excluding Jews), which represented about 10% of the population of the US in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

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The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 2/5

January 6, 2012

Another question Parfitt asked in in his comment to Comparing India and China’s Potential for Economic Growth was, What about China’s debt problem? Would that hinder it [China] in its supposed race against India?”

I doubt strongly that there is an economic race between India and China. If it is perceived that one exists, we may thank the Western media circus for that, since the media often compares the annual growth of India’s GDP with China’s.

The answer to Parfitt’s question leads to another question that should have been asked instead.

Will India’s corruption [50% of GDP], poverty [25%], literacy rate [61%] and debt problems hinder it in its supposed economic race with China? Source of facts used: CIA Factbook

By comparison, literacy in China is 92.2% and those living below the poverty line according to the CIA Factbook represent 2.8% of the population.

India’s GDP [Purchasing Power Parity - PPP], according to the CIA Factbook, was about $4 trillion dollars in 2010 but its public debt was 50.6% of GDP. It’s reserves of foreign exchange and gold was $287.1 billion [this is the same as a savings account], and its external debt was $316.9 billion, which shows us that India owes more money than it has in its savings account. In addition, it has been reported that corruption in India is worse than China.

By comparison, China’s GDP [PPP] in 2010 was more than $10 trillion and its public debt was 16.3% of GDP, its savings account held almost $3 trillion and its external debt was $519 billion.

Another point of comparison is the US GDP [PPP], which was $14.66 trillion with $14.71 trillion in external debt and a public debt of 62.9%, while its savings account holds $132.4 billion.

With these numbers, which country is in the best shape economically to face challenges at home and globally in the near future and in the long run?

I replied to Mr. Parfitt’s comments and there was another reply from Alessandro, a regular visitor to this Blog. The reason I’m writing this post is the IGNORANCE Factor, which plays far too large a role in the circus of American politics and public opinion, which is often inflamed by the biased opinions of individuals such as Mr. Parfitt.

Continued on January 7, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

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The two-faces of Confucius – Part 2/5

December 21, 2011

Before we look at the two-faces of Confucius, let us learn something from a New York Times Opinion piece by Eric X. Li, Counterpoint: Debunking Myths About China

Li says there is a common myth that because China does not hold elections that its rulers do not have the consent of the ruled.

However, “According to the Pew Research Center” Li says, “the Chinese government enjoys popular support that is among the highest in the world.The Chinese people’s satisfaction with the direction of their country was at 87% in 2010 and has been consistently above 80 percent in recent years.”

Compare the popularity of China’s government to that of the US government and its people, and we discover that, “Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress receive highly negative job ratings. Just 23% approve of the job Republican congressional leaders are doing, while 67% disapprove. Ratings for Democratic leaders are not much better: 30% approve while 61% disapprove…” Source: Pew Research Center


Common Misconceptions  About China

Li also debunked the myth that China is an authoritarian state in which the party’s political power is concentrated and self-perpetuating.

He then tackled the myth that China’s restriction on freedom of expression stifles innovation. Li says, “Some of the most successful IPO’s of Internet companies on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq have been Chinese startups…” and “China’s share of scientific research papers published in recognized international journals went from 4.4 percent in the period between 1999-2003 to 10.2 percent in the period between 2004-2008, now just behind the United States.”

In addition, when it comes to claims that the Communist Party’s authoritarian rule leads to widespread corruption, “By Transparency International’s account [the lower the number the less corruption there is], China (78) ranks higher than India (87), Philippines (134), Indonesia (110), Argentina (105) and many more, and tied with Greece (78), barely below Italy (67) — all electoral democracies.

Apparently, China’s one-party system is less corrupt than many democratic countries.

In conclusion before moving on to the two-faces of Confucius in the next post, David Gosset in Common Misconceptions About the Chinese World says, “The level of individual freedom enjoyed today by its citizens has no equivalent in China’s past, and the effort to establish the rule of law will bring more social, economic and political improvements.”

Continued on December 15, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. 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.

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