A look at Dishonesty and Democracy in Asia

September 14, 2016

Corruption is a fact-of-life in most of Asia. The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2015 reveals that most of Asia is very corrupt —when it comes to this ranking, the smaller number is better and the worst global ranking for corruption is shared by North Korea and Somalia.

Of the 168 countries ranked for corruption in the world, in South East and East Asia: North Korea was ranked 167 (the most corrupt country), Cambodia was ranked 150, Myanmar 147, Laos 139, Nepal 130, Timor-Leste 123, Pakistan 117, Vietnam 112, Philippines 95, Indonesia 88, China 83, Thailand 76, Mongolia 72, Malaysia 54, South Korea 37, Taiwan 30, Bhutan 27, Hong Kong 18 (part of China), and Japan 18. (countries in bold are listed as democracies)

These countries in Asia are listed as democracies: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Taiwan (except Taiwan is not considered a country).

India, the world’s largest democracy, was ranked 76 on the Corruption Perception Index. Singapore (describes itself as a ‘sovereign republic’) was number 8, making it one of the least corrupt countries in the world. The country on the list with the least corruption was Denmark. Second place went to Finland and third to Sweden.

China, a country that gets a lot of bad press in the United States for corruption, was ranked 83rd, but 50.59 percent of the world’s countries were ranked worse for corruption.

The United States was ranked 16th.

It may come as a surprise to many Western critics, but aei.org reports, “In 1987, the Party mandated the creation of new local governments by democratic election in China’s approximately 930,000 villages. A decade later, more than 905,000 elected committees and 3.7 million elected officials were reportedly in place.” To discover more about this experiment with democracy that’s been going on for 29 years inside of Communist China, click the link in this paragraph.

“Between July 2006 and December 2007, elections for local assemblies were held in 60 percent of provincial administrative regions, with more than 900 million voters selecting 38,000 people’s congresses. No elections had been held beyond the township level.” – Facts and Details.com

Few outside China have heard of China’s rural experiment with democracy, and each time there is an election, almost one billion peasants learn more about democracy in action.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, 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 most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were 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 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 have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 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 with its 538 electors]. 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. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

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.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 2 of 3

August 10, 2016

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925] was considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, and he 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 in time and examine America’s political structure then.

William P. Meyers.org says, “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.”

But by 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections, but where was Sun Yat-sen 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, and his ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades before women got the vote in the U.S.

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 America. 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, years after Sun’s death, 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?

Well, children could be sold into slavery by their parents and end up working in factories, coal mines and even whore houses as young as seven. 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, and the Equal Rights Amendment has still not passed.

Continued with Part 3 on August 11, 2016 or start with Part 1

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

For August 2016 Promotion

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 1 of 3

August 9, 2016

The mainland Chinese have many choices to choose from when it comes to a democracy. They could copy the first democracy in Athens, but the Athenian democracy had slavery and women couldn’t vote. In the 4th and 5th century BC, all male citizens (about 40,000 to 60,000) in Athens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participle directly in the political arena, but women, slaves (as many as 80,000) and foreign residents were excluded.  – Athenian Democracy: a brief overview

What about the United States at its birth as a republic? Well, only white men who owned property and were not Jews were allowed to vote. That was about 10 percent of the population, and in 1790 there were 697,897 slaves in America. – Slave Population of United States: 1790 – 1860

Around that time, the U.S. resident population in 1790 was about 3.9 million. If we subtract the slaves, that leaves 3.2 million meaning that about 300,000 men were allowed to vote.

There are 192 countries in the world and only 123 (or 64 percent) are considered democracies, but China is often criticized the most for not being what is considered a democracy. Why aren’t the other 68 countries that are not democracies criticized: for instance, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan – maybe it is because these authoritarian regimes are all supported by the United States but mainland China isn’t?

However, China might already be a democratic republic, because few if any outside of China 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. After all, Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of China’s republic by both Taiwan and Beijing. In fact, mainland 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.

Continued with Part 2 on August 10, 2016

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

For August 2016 Promotion

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Does water reveal how a country takes care of its citizens – China versus India

February 3, 2016

This post explores which country is doing a better job of supplying water to its people—China or India.  When you finish reading and watching the two videos, you decide which country you would rather live in if you had to make a choice between them.

Is freedom of expression and of religion more important than water—what would be your answer if you had to make a choice?

The choices of world religions are many. According to Religious Tolerance.org, “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.”

One of the most common complains outside China is that its citizens do not have the abstract freedom of expression and all of those religions to choose from, because China only offers seven approved religions to choose from and freedom of public political expression is severely limited.

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compared the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies fail to act due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims of Tibetan separatists—the 1% that lives in voluntary exile in India—and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

But no matter what Ba O wants, change is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is coming from global warming. Because of drought, the Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited in one of these resettlement villages had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, by comparison, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line. The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

Here are a few other factors that reveal how a country treats its citizens.

China – Population 1.357 billion (2013) with one political party

  • 27.24% or 369.6 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 3.6% or 48.8 million
  • life expectancy = 75 today. It was 35 in 1949.
  • According to worldhunger.org, “Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China.”
  • Transparency.org ranks China #27 on the bribe payers index.

The Bribe Payers Index ranks the world’s wealthiest and most economically influential countries according to the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad, and the United States is ranked #10.

India – Population 1.252 billion (2013) with six national political parties and 49 state parties

  • 58.1% or 727.4 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 27.9% or 338 million
  • life expectancy = 66 today. It was 36 in 1949.
  • According to bhookh.com, “Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.”
  • Transparency.org list ranks India #19 on its bribe payers index.

Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is credited with saying “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

What happens to the pursuit of life, liberty, freedom of expression—the right to publicly complain about the government but nothing changes anyway—and the exploration of spiritual beliefs when there isn’t enough food to eat or safe water to drink?

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Taiwan: does democracy work in Asia? Part 6 of 6

January 24, 2016

The last alleged Asian democracy to shine a brief spotlight on is Taiwan, which isn’t really a country, since the United States and most other significant nations recognize one China and thus include the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of (mainland) China.

In fact, China claims Taiwan as its province, and the international community does not want to contradict China, so Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Although local elections were allowed in Taiwan as early as the 1950s, the Kuomintang (KMT) ruled Taiwan with martial law under Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1976), and repressed democracy advocates for more than three decades—sometimes brutally.

For instance, there was another massacre “I never heard of” that I stumbled on by accident while researching another post, the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from 10,000 to 30,000 or more. The massacre marked the beginning of the Kuomintang’s White Terror period in Taiwan, in which thousands more inhabitants vanished, died, or were imprisoned. Has anyone heard the U.S. media remind Americans of the massacre in Taiwan that murdered as many as 10 times the casualties that have been reported annually about the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square?

After Chiang Kai-shek’s death, in 1976, the KMT held onto power until 2000. Then in direct elections, the Taiwanese people voted for a president in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, but corruption reared its ugly head again.

In 2009, Time World reported on former President Chen Shui-bian‘s corruption trial. Chen was accused of taking $9 million dollars in personal kickbacks on a state-sanctioned land deal, embezzling over $3 million from a state fund and laundering millions to overseas accounts.

Then in 2010, the Taipei Times reported, “A former president (Chen Shui-bian) jailed for graft, a retired head of military police indicted for embezzlement, three top judges accused of taking bribes — the list goes on. Taiwan has a problem with corruption.”

In addition, New York Times reported, “Lee Teng-hui, a former president (served 1996 – 2000), who moved the self-governing island toward democracy, was indicted … on charges of embezzling $7.79 million from a state fund, becoming the second former president of Taiwan to be charged with corruption.”

One good thing to say for Taiwan is a low poverty level similar to mainland China. However, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the U.S. 2010 Census says 15.7 percent of Americans live in poverty and that is 47.8 million people—more than twice the population of Taiwan.

After discovering the track record of these so-called multi-party democracies in Asia, do you think mainland China’s growing middle class will eventually want a multi-party democracy?

For one answer, Professor Stephen Kobrin of the Wharton School of Knowledge at the University of Pennsylvania says, “We tend to assume all middle-class people have certain values.”

Kobrin points to the common assertion that people rising into the middle class will press for democracy. However, that does not seem to be happening in China where he suggests that people may be willing to accept more autocratic regimes in return for stability and a middle-class consumer lifestyle.

“The assumption has been that there’s a link between capitalism and democracy, that as incomes rise and people become educated, they will increase pressure for democracy and freedom and civil liberties,” notes Kobrin. “That may or may not be true.”

What do you think—is democracy in Asia working and should China give it a try?

Return to India in Part 5 or start with Japan in Part 1

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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India: does democracy work in Asia? Part 5 of 6

January 23, 2016

Among the alleged Asian democracies, India is next.  The Guardian says of corruption in India that “All your life you pay for things that should be free.”

The Guardian reported that “one ordinary man” had to pay at least a third of his income to survive. “Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes,” Vishal, 26, said. But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest into the best local school he paid a “donation” of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster.”

Economy Watch.com said, “India’s underground economy is believed to be 50 percent of the country’s GDP – US$640 billion at the end of 2008,” and Janamejayan’s Weblog goes into detail of one scam that cost $40 billion, which is 3% of India’s GDP.


Poverty in India, 2011

In addition, there is confusion over how many live in poverty in India.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme reported that literacy in India was about 74 percent, while the CIA Factbook set the literacy rate at 61 percent (literacy and poverty are linked), which explains The World Bank’s estimates of poverty in India at 41.6 percent.

However, the Hindustan Times says for 2011 that there are 406 million poor in India, which is a third of the population—an increase of 8% since 2009.

In addition, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India

In 2009, India’s population was about 1.2 billion, and the country had six nationally recognized political parties and about 46 recognized state/provincial parties. Source: List of Recognized Political Parties in India (Wiki)

India has been the world’s largest democracy since 1947, and although India claims to have reduced poverty from about 53% in 1973-74 to 25.6% in 1999-2000, the definition and difficulty in reporting the exact numbers casts doubt on this claim.

However, in the same time span, China reduced poverty from 64% to less than 3%, and China is not a multi-party democracy. If China had been a multi-party democracy like India, would poverty have been reduced so dramatically?

In addition, according to Time’s Global Spin, a blog about the world, its people and its politics, “The size of India’s middle class was 50 million in 2005, according to this report by McKinsey,” and McKinsey may be wrong and the number may be lower.

In contrast, Martin Trieu, President of Tourmaline Capital, estimates “there are at least 250-300 million people (in China) who now fall into this (middle class) category.”

Helen H. Wang of Forbes Magazine’s China Tracker agrees with Trieu, and says, “Today, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years.”

How precious is freedom when you are too poor to enjoy it?

Continued with Taiwan on January 24, 2016 in Part 6 or return to Part 4

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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