Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Interesting BBC Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12544624

Here’s a nice quote from everybody’s beloved Gaddafi:

Anyone who played games with the country’s unity would be executed, he said, referring to the Chinese authorities’ crushing of the student protests in Tiananmen Square among other historical events.

Except unlike the Chinese protesters of 6-4, those in Libya have guns.

Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2011/02/libyas_uprising

An Egyptian accountant working in Tobruk said youths wielding swords had taken his company’s bulldozers to capture arms from army arsenals.

In their reclaimed towns, including Benghazi, the country’s second city, the migrant workers report that Libyan youths cruise the streets in their stolen cars using heavy weapons and even tanks looted from army bases.

Oh what a wonderful world we live in.


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Jasmine Revolution


I liked the part where they said the crowd “appeared to be mostly curious onlookers”. Reminds me of the Carrefour protests where a good number of the ‘protesters’ where just there to gawk. Protesters in China should learn a bit from 19th and early 20th century Communist tactics. The people must be made to suffer before they will join a revolution. Otherwise, it just doesn’t fit their cost-benefit analysis.

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Tunisia and Egypt got through their protests with relatively few casualties. The army wasn’t sent in to crack down or anything like that. Maybe they military weren’t willing to go in and shoot people or maybe those dictators weren’t willing to have that blood on their hands. Whatever the reason, widespread massacre of civilians didn’t take place (or at least wasn’t reported).

Now in Libya and Bahrain, it seems like things are different, especially in Libya. Check out this BBC article about Libya: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12512536

Now China is currently in a pretty different situation so it is extremely unlikely that unrest would spread over to the People’s Republic. But the protests in the Arab countries today do share some similarities with the Tiananmen protests.

First of all, there is the underlying economic issues that tend to be the main cause of most protests. High unemployment for educated youth and inequality between those in the government and the ordinary citizens are two main similarities. Then there’s that talk about political reform and what-not, but those are usually over-hyped because it sounds better that people are protesting for freedom rather than a TV. People of the less developed world are generally brought to protests for material reasons rather than ideological ones.

Anyway. The mindset of the Chinese government and military back in ’89 had more in common with that of Libya than Egypt. The willingness to go to extreme violence and the united will of the government with the military usually means civil disobedience turns into a lot of dead people. In those situations, peaceful protests don’t really have much of a role.

But today, it is difficult to see how the Chinese government would respond to similar types of protests. Sure, the military and paramilitary forces in China would most likely be willing to crack down on their own people, but is the Chinese government willing to send them in? Some would say yes and provide examples of how the Chinese government dealt with the Xinjiang and Tibet unrest. However, those protests were made by minority groups. Violence used against a minority group is easier than violence against the majority because there aren’t that many of them. But if Han Chinese were to rise up again in large numbers rather than Manchurian or the Yue, would the Chinese government be willing to pull another 6.4?

Who knows.

EDIT: Bah… The Economist said the same thing I did except better and a day earlier… http://www.economist.com/node/18178177

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Google declared that they’re going to try and negotiate with the CCP to uncensor their google.cn site. As most people are saying, the CCP will most likely not agree to this, which makes a lot of sense. If the CCP softens their hard line stance against Google, Bing is sure to follow, and then Yahoo! will jump on board, and close behind them Baidu will shout for equal treatment. Before long, the People’s Daily will be posting articles about how they should be uncensored as well. It’s not gonna happen.

But I’m actually very impressed with Google’s decision. I mean they are a corporation that is responsible to their shareholders. Doing business in China is profitable, whether or not censorship is taking place. Once Google announced this, their share price dropped like 1.5%. This isn’t so much Google going up against the CCP, but Google going up against their shareholders or, in broader terms, the ideology of their shareholders v. their profit.

I’m sure there are some pretty liberal folk who hold Google stock and sold it when they heard of the decision. I mean they might have cheered in their hearts, but they’re not willing to support human rights at the risk of their investment. Very few people would do this. Ideology is something abstract while money is something substantial. You can’t buy tacos with a belief, but you can with $1.10 at Taqueria Guadalajara in San Leandro.

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The Cycle Continues

Later hundreds of Han Chinese marched through the streets of Urumqi smashing shops and stalls belonging to Uighurs.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, in Urumqi, says some of the protesters were shouting “down with Uighurs” as they rampaged through the streets armed with homemade weapons.

Police attempted to block access to the bazaar and other Uighur districts of the city and fired tear gas as the Han Chinese confronted groups of Uighurs.

The Han Chinese said they were angry at the failure of security forces to protect their community on Sunday.

One protester, clutching a metal bar, told the AFP news agency: “The Uighurs came to our area to smash things, now we are going to their area to beat them.”

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Scores Killed in China Protests – BBC News

Order partially restored in violence-plagued Urumqi, situation still tense – People’s Daily

The Urumqi Mass Incident – EastSouthWestNorth Blog

Quick summary:

1a. Rumors spread through the internet that Uighur factory workers raped Han women in Guangdong – Xinhua

2a. Riots took place between Han and Uighur factory workers – EastSouthWestNorth Blog

3a. Uighurs in Urumqi protest and are violently repressed by the police


1b. Outsiders sneak into China

2b. Outsiders organize and lead the protests

3b. Uighurs in Urumqi violently riot and peace was restored by the police

Whatever the case may be, China needs to realize that dealing with diversity requires more than having those many nationalities show up on TV and do their native dances. The racial tensions in China are rising and they need to be dealt with in an economic, political, as well as culturally transformative manner.

Now I’ll say that most Nationalities in China have been ‘Han-washed’. The Manchu in China are like the Norwegian-Americans in the United States. They’re absorbed into mainstream culture and have intermarried with the dominant cultures of their respective nations. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the Tibetans and Uighurs in China with their African-American counterparts in the US. First of all, these peoples have not assimilated culturally into the mainstream. Uighurs don’t eat pork, they’re Muslim, they look different, and speak a different language. Blacks listen to rap music, speak in a manner different than white America, and make up a good number of prisoners on death row. Of course, there are those who have assimilated. Some Uighurs in China have risen up to become politicians and speak out against rebellious Uighurs as traitors. Obama is black (at least half of him is) and he is the president of the US. But those who have risen to power must assimilate first. 2pac would never have become president, nor would Hasan Mahsum have been able to rise up the ranks of the CCP.

Now let’s talk about Rodney King real quick.  Back in 1992, I was in third grade when the riots broke out in LA. We had a talk about this in our class where our teacher told us it was wrong to use violence. One of the black kids in my class disagreed and said that since the white cop beat the black man first, the blacks should be able to fight back. It’s a pretty simple logic that goes back to the Omaha Race Riots, Native American clan warfare, Nordic saga feuds, and Hammurabi’s ‘Eye for an Eye’. But even then, I had this gut feeling that there was something wrong with it. I mean if I got beat up by one of those Mexicans in the ESL class next door and I responded by gathering my kinsmen to go kick some asses, what’s to stop them from getting back at us? And us from responding? And what’s to keep this cycle of violence from continuing forever?

And that’s what’s happening in China. Han Chinese thought some Uighurs raped some Han Chinese so they got mad (since obvious, only Han men can rape Han women), so they struck back by killing a couple Uighurs. Now the Uighurs are rioting and are beating up Han (since obviously, only Uighur men can kill Uighur men for rape). Now, my side comments might seem sarcastic, but it’s a widely accepted truth. When a whole bunch of white people are killed by a whole bunch of other white people, it’s considered a bad thing. When a bunch of Indonesians kill a bunch of Timorese, it’s ethnic cleansing. That’s a whole different level of killing.

There are several solutions to this problem. The Han Chinese can breed out or violently wipe out all dissenting ethnicities. The CCP can grant independence to regions where certain ethnicities demand it. Or, China can move towards developing a political and economic program which would ease ethnic tensions in their country and promote cultural tolerance of different people.

The third proposal is the one that most people would vote for, but it’s also by far the most difficult. I believe people are instinctually racist and that most people prefer their own kind. English majors hang out with English majors, FOBs hang out with other FOBs, and Uighurs hang out with Uighurs. There are exceptions to the rule, but this is usually the case. There can be no ‘harmonious society’ when people refuse to assimilate. The best one can hope for is a ‘tolerable-coexistence with some intermixing society’. But hey, even that is better than ‘suppressed racial tensions and sudden outbursts of ethnic violence society’ that currently exists in China today.

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It’s pretty difficult to tell whether or not such protests would be successful or not. For example, back in 1989, there were a lot of successful non-violent and violent revolutions that took place. The Fall of the Berlin War, the Velvet Revolution, and Solidarity were all pretty successful in creating democratic governments in Eastern Europe. Then, there was the Tiananmen Massacre which has led to… well… what we have right now in the PRC. A little later, there were the Color Revolutions that led to the creation of mostly democratic states in Georgia (the country, not the state) and a few others. Of course, there was also that massive failure in Myanmar where the monks didn’t really force that much change.

Protests are sometimes useful, but most of the time, they’re just around long enough for the media to exploit for ratings. If the majority of the people in a country, not just the urban or educated elite, support the revolution, it’ll probably have a higher chance of success. Like in East Germany, I would guess that there was a decent amount of support and knowledge about plans for reunification. In China back in ’89 on the other hand, the peasants in Ningxia had no idea what democracy was, let alone what the students were doing in Beijing.

I don’t know too much about Iran, but it really doesn’t seem like the faction that is supporting reform is large enough yet. At least I haven’t heard much about the peasants and the poor joining in on the protests. Marx was right when he was talking about the prerequisites for communist revolutions, except it can be expanded to revolutions in general. Development increases the chance that a political revolution would be successful. If the people are poor and starving, they can be easily riled up to protest, but at the same time it is easy to buy them off with some food or redistribution of some land. Those who have satisfied their basic needs can be riled up to protest as well, but if they are given economic mobility and consumer goods are available for purchase, they can be distracted from the revolution as they seem to fulfill their consumption needs.

Now once you got that TV and motorbike, the marginal benefit of consuming more decreases. Getting that first TV gives you much more benefit in comparison to having to trek over to a Best Buy to watch on one of those display TVs. On the other hand, a bigger TV might make you happier, but less and less as your TV gets bigger and bigger. The people can no longer be as easily bought off with economic reforms. They’re going to want a cleaner environment, a safer place for their kids, and other public goods. They’re going to demand this from the government. Kaboom. We got a civil society forming. The civil society expands from demanding services from the government and goes into immaterial things. Human rights, democracy, freedom, liberty, and so on and so on.

I’m not saying that the poor won’t want ideas like freedom and equality, but they usually have more important things on their minds. They want freedom so that they can sell their goods on the market at a fair price. They want human rights to protect their land from wealthy men and armed thugs. They want democracy so they can choose a leader that they have connections with so that they can get help. They want these ‘ideas’ to achieve material gains, not just for the sake of having these rights’. That’s why most communists are students or comfortable intellectuals. The poor inner city youth would prefer a sweet ride and a couple hos in the back.

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