The Man that may be China’s next President – Part 1/2

April 3, 2012

I’m sure that you have never heard of a dictator that had term limits—in fact, two different term limits. You may often hear that the president of China is a dictator and that China is a dictatorship. However, the facts say otherwise unless the definition for this term has been changed in recent years to fit China.

However, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English says that a dictator is “a ruler who has complete power over a country, especially one whose power has been gained by force.”

The Oxford Dictionary (the world’s most trusted dictionaries – according to them) says, that a dictator is “a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force.”

Wiki says “A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch… In modern usage, the term ‘dictator” is generally used to describe a leader who holds and/or abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint by a legislative assembly.”

Therefore, when the president of China is limited to two, four-year terms and/or must retire at age sixty-eight (whichever comes first) and there is a legislative body that has the power to make laws while the courts enforce them (but may not overrule or interpret those laws), does that mean that president is a dictator too? I’ll leave that answer up to the reader.


Newsmakers 2011 – Xi Jinping

In addition, Article 62 of China’s Constitution says that The National People’s Congress (NPC) “elects the President and the Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China… In Article 63, it also says the NPC has the power to recall or remove from office the President and the Vice-President, which hasn’t happened yet but to be fair, it hasn’t happened in the United States either.

Then in Section 2, Articles 79 to 84 you may discover what the power of China’s president is. In Article 80, it says, “The President of the People’s Republic of China, in pursuance of decisions of the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee, promulgates statutes … confers state medals and titles of honour; issues orders of special pardons; proclaims martial law; proclaims a state of war; and issues mobilization orders.”

I suggest clicking on this link to China’s Constitution and scrolling down to Section 2 to learn the rest.

Anyway, these two posts are about the man that may rule China as its president for the next four to eight years. Earlier this month, that man visited the United States and his name is Xi Jinping.

We will learn more about him as a person in the next post.

But first, it helps to learn more about how China’s government works. Patrick Chovanec is a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China. He says, “In China there is the Party, the Army, and the State. Unlike in the U.S., where the three branches are co-equal and are specifically designed to check and balance each other’s powers, in China the Party is supreme and rules over the other two elements. China’s ‘leadership transition’  involves coordinated handovers of power involving all three parts of the political system.”

Chovanec says, “Since the late 1990s, a semi-official mandatory retirement age of 68 has applied to all Politburo members. If that rule is applied in 2012 (and there is no reason to expect that it won’t), all seven members of the current Politburo Standing Committee besides Xi and Li (including Hu and Wen) will retire, and be replaced by new appointees.”

I recommend clicking on this link to Chovanec’s Blog to read the rest of his post on this topic. It may be worth your time to learn more about how China works.

Continued on February 29, 2012 in The Man that may be China’s next President – Part 2

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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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China’s Translation Sensation

March 19, 2012

On March 14, I published a post about Premier Wen Jiabao’s farewell speech to China’s National People’s Congress before he steps down later this year and retires from political office.

China is a land of many spoken languages and one written language. In fact, Chinese movies often have subtitles flowing across the bottom of the screen in Mandarin for the hundreds of millions of Chinese that do not speak Mandarin but only read it. To understand how complex this mix of languages is, Mandarin by itself has more than 50 dialects and there are 56 different minority languages.

I suggest you see Wikipedia’s list of Chinese dialects and languages for a better understanding of how complex China is and how amazing it is that this nation has been a unified country for more than two millennia.

After Wen Jiaboa’s speech, I read the media translations in English from several sources and had no idea that in his speech he quoted original poetry dating back to one of ancient China’s greatest and earliest recognized poets, Ch’u Yu (343 – 289 BC). Since Wen’s speech, the micro-Blog debate and criticism in China have been intense, which demonstrates that in China, expressing an opinion is not forbidden.

How would Americans react if an American President gave his State of the Union address laced with quotes from Latin or Old English?

In Latin, The Lord’s Prayer starts, “PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.” In Old English, it starts with, “Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum…”

In China, the response to Wen Jiabao’s use of an ancient and dead Chinese language mostly focused on the translator, Miss Zhang Lu (in Chinese the last name comes first, which emphasized the importance of the family over the individual and demonstrates a major difference between the West and Asia).  Zhang majored in international law and graduated from China’s Institute of Diplomacy. She then became a translator for top ranking Chinese Communist Party officials.

Zhang was praised by many for translating Wen Jiabao’s “I’d not regret dying nine times,” to “For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I’d not regret dying a thousand times.”

I printed 14 pages of comments from a Chinese language micro Blog that was part of the national debate, which started with comments by Chinese professors from different universities in China including Fudan University, Tsinghua University and Shanghai’s Foreign Language Institute correcting and offering suggestions for Miss Zhang’s translation.


Sexy Beijing: Lost in Translation

I’m going to focus on one example of one of the ancient Chinese poems Wen Jiabao quoted when he said, “知我罪我,其惟春秋”, which in proper English translates into “History will judge what I have done.”

Miss Zhang’s translation said, “There are people who will appreciate what I have done but there are also people who will criticize me. Ultimately, history will have the final say.”

One professor’s suggested translation said, “What I have done may be appreciated and criticized by the people, yet ultimately history will give me a fair assessment (or judgment).”

In addition, here are several typical comments from the same micro Blog:

Comment A

What’s wrong with Premier Wen acting like he was competing in a poetry contest? He ought to earn credit for doing a good job managing the country, not to impress with his skill of reciting ancient Chinese poetry.

Comment B

It goes to show how difficult it is to be a leader of Chinese today. Wen should not be criticized for incorporating in his speech a couple of lines from ancient poems. Americans didn’t criticize their President W. Bush for saying things that didn’t make sense or made the wrong sense. Instead, they thought him cool and a “man of his-true-self”.

Comment C

For Heaven’s sake Wen represents the face of China. Americans don’t have trouble with Obama’s talent in speaking beautifully. Instead of ridiculing, they appreciated him.

Comment D

Oh, come on, don’t be so naive. Every question at Wen’s last press conference was pre-selected. Premier Wen must have communicated with his translator prior to show-time. He would never risk the young translator’s misunderstanding or misinterpreting his use of ancient poems.

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In conclusion, the alleged reason Premier Wen Jiabao used passages from ancient Chinese poems may have been to not only demonstrate the beauty of the Chinese language and his knowledge of it, but to infer that China does not need to bend to the rest of the world and do things as a foreign leader might do but as a Chinese leader.

In fact, it is Chinese tradition for scholars and government officials in China to quote ancient poetry and literature in speeches. In addition, the beauty of language is valued highly in China. The use of spoken and written language to many Chinese is not just getting a meaning or emotion across, it is also considered a form of art.

Meanwhile, in the West/America, we read an English translation of his speech, which is a translation of a translation and walk away thinking we know what one of China’s leaders meant, which brings me to a final question.

What happens when there is a mistake in translation during sensitive political negotiations between countries such as China and America?

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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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Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 3/5

September 10, 2011

According to Alexa Olesen of the Associated Press, women are now a big part of the competitive education system in China.

Olesen says, “In 1978, women made up only 24.2 percent of the student population at Chinese colleges and universities. By 2009, nearly half of China’s full-time undergraduates were women and 47 percent of graduate students were female, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“In India, by comparison,” Olessen says, “women make up 37.6 percent of those enrolled at institutes of higher education, according to government statistics.”

Aaron Brown of PBS Wide Angle reports how talented Chinese students that cannot afford to pay for senior high school earn scholarships from the government. Attending high school on scholarship in China means living in dorms.

Brown says, “Although China is now working toward developing its students creativity, its educational system is traditionally geared toward rote learning. Students are tested on how well they have memorized their textbooks and teacher’s lectures.”

One student in the PBS documentary, Gao Mengjia, says she studies daily for sixteen hours, sleeps for six and eats for one to two hours.

                     

Another route to the top is to win a medal in a competition such as the National Mathematic Olympiad. Winning a gold or silver may lead to acceptance at one of China’s top universities.

In China, senior high school students may come from high ranked parents that are members of the Communist Party and who have traveled abroad to Europe/America

Through merit, peasant children from rural Chinese families that earn about $2,000 annually—enough to put food on the table for a large family (note: in most of rural China there is no property tax or mortgage to pay, since the land is owned by the village and government and may not be bought or sold)—may attend the same schools.

One sign of China’s merit based educational system are the number of women successful in private business.  Of the world’s 14 self-made women billionaires, six are Chinese (according to Forbes) while only three are from the United States.  Source: The Richest.org

In addition, China’s National People’s Congress, women make up 21.3% of the representatives while in the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, women fill about 10% of the seats in India and about 17% in the United States.

This goes to prove that success through merit does pay off compared to leveling the playing field with quotas.

Continued on September 11, 2011 in Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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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Dictatorship Defined

April 7, 2010

There is so much misleading information on the Internet and from the Western media regarding China that it boggles the mind. For example, China’s President is listed as a dictator but by definition, he cannot be a dictator.

Dictatorship: 1) government by a ruler who has complete power 2) a country that is ruled by one person who has complete power (source: Longman Advanced American Dictionary)

Chinese Constitution: Article 1

Article 1. The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. The socialist system is the basic system of the People’s Republic of China. Sabotage of the socialist system by any organization or individual is prohibited. Source: Chinese Constitution

I asked my wife, “How can China use the term dictatorship in Article 1 if China isn’t ruled by a dictator?”

She replied, “In Chinese, ‘people’s democratic dictatorship‘ means the people have the power. It’s a translation error.”

I then Googled dictatorship and discovered Parade’s Annual list of…the World’s 10 Worst Dictators.

Parade’s definition of a dictator says, “A ‘dictator‘ is a head of state who exercises arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens and who cannot be removed from power through legal means.” Hu Jintao, China’s president, was number six on Parade’s list, but the claims used to include Hu Jintao are wrong.

Presidents Hu Jintao and George Bush

For example, Parade claims that at least 400,000 residents of Beijing were forcibly evicted from their houses prior to the 2008 Olympics. That’s not true—the people sent from Beijing before the 2008 Olympics was transient labor and did not have residence cards and could not own property in Beijing. They were not legal residents and many transient laborers in China rent rooms shared with others in a communal environment crowded with bunk beds crammed in every possible space—like a military barracks. I know, because I’ve seen places like this in Shanghai. I also learned that the government paid for the transportation costs.

The reason Beijing sent those people away was because some were from Tibet and Xinjiang and may have been separatists, who might have staged protests to embarrass China—something the Chinese government avoids like the plague. The truth is, those people were sent home to their villages and were allowed to return to work after the Beijing Olympics. For them, it was like a vacation. Most also return to their villages during the Chinese New Year to be with their families because that’s where their homes are.

Since the Chinese Constitution rules China, Hu Jintao does not exercise arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens. In fact, I doubt if he makes any legal decisions since the Chinese Constitution puts that power in the hands of China’s legal system. Discover more at China Law and Justice System

Parade is also wrong that China’s president cannot be removed from power through legal means.

Article 79 says, “The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China is the same as that of the National People’s Congress, and they shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.”

Article 59. The National People’s Congress is composed of deputies elected by the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, and by the armed forces.

Article 63. The National People’s Congress has the power to recall or remove from office the following persons:

(1) The President and the Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China;

(2) The Premier, Vice-Premiers, State Councillors, Ministers in charge of Ministries or Commissions and the Auditor-General and the Secretary-General of the State Council;

(3) The Chairman of the Central Military Commission and others on the commission;

(4) The President of the Supreme People’s Court; and

(5) The Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

Discover Stereotypes and/or The Failure of Multiculturalism in the United States

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Health Care, Urban Real Estate and Renewable Energy Update

March 9, 2010

Rural citizens of China have been protesting the lack of quality health care outside the cities where eight hundred million Chinese live. This topic was also a subject for debate in China’s legislature, known as the National People’s Congress. (see Basic Health Care in China (http://wp.me/pN4pY-bO)

Another complaint China’s government wants to deal with is the shocking price increases to buy a home in one of China’s cities. Housing costs in seventy Chinese cities jumped 9.5% from a year earlier. The government wants to bring those prices down to make housing more affordable.

During the Copenhagen Climate Summit, China was criticized for not signing a pledge to reduce carbon emissions. China recently announced that it is planning to reduce its carbon footprint by 40-45% (from 2005 levels) and generate 15% of its electricity from renewable technologies by 2020. Over the next ten years, we should see these changes taking place. Since most of China’s leaders are engineers, they often set long-term goals.

Chinese Wind Farms

By comparison, President Obama said at Copenhagen that the United States intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17% by 2020.  Since the Chinese government doesn’t have to deal with American conservatives, who do not believe carbon emissions are causing global warming and block legislation and spew confusion at every chance, I’d place my bet on China achieving their goals first.


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