Watching the U.S. election and the Chinese transition of power, my friend John has come up with the second guest post to share with us on this blog.
Democracy, Meritocracy and corruption.
Watching the elections in the U.S. and the transition of power in China, it crystallized the thought I had for a while about the current government structure in China and how they compared to the Western democracies.
My understanding of the U.S. government is rudimentary. My understanding of the Chinese government even less. So my observations and analysis are based on information that could be readily obtained from the West. Nevertheless, many experts have done a lot worse over the years. One in particular, Gordon Chang, have been predicting the coming collapse of China since 2001! In fact, he thought China would go down by 2011! Yet, in spite of his records, he still is publishing in Major publications.
I believe that the China model of selecting leaders could have the potential to be far superior to the way the West selects them.
Let me first lay out my understanding of how the Chinese government works. The Chinese government is based on patronage. Officials enter the system of government either recruited from top colleges due to their outstanding performances, or, equally likely, they enter government services by their heritage. Their parents were also communist officials. Once they are in the system, their boss decide where they will go. If they perform well(or if they also have connections from higher up), they rapidly move up. While there are many considerations for a candidate to move up, competency is a major component for moving up. It is based on performance like in a corporation.
So one can think of this as performance based with heavy legacy considerations. Even for those with legacy, rising to the top requires competence. There are many people with fairly ordinary background which were elevated to the top due to their performance. For example, Shen Yueyue, one of the handful of the “sixth generation” leaders, has the following bio from one of the U.S. government reports
“Although she began her career as a shop assistant, she later earned a degree in mathematics and rose to prominence as Vice-Secretary of the Communist Youth League in her native Ningbo. She served as Deputy Secretary and Secretary of the Zhejiang Youth League from 1986 to 1993 and attended the Central Party School in 1996. When she was appointed Vice-Secretary of the Anhui Party Committee in 2001, she was 44 years of age. Long affiliated with the CCYL, she is thought to be aligned with Hu Jintao’s Tuanpai faction.”
She was a shop keeper when she started out! and she may rise to the very top of the Chinese power structure. But she was not someone who was just a community organizer or a junior senator with little achievement to show for. She took various posts in the government and gave an outstanding performance. That is how she moved up. That is how all others moved up.
So, we have a system where some of the people are recruited and promoted based strictly on merit, others are brought in through family background, but at the end, still promoted based on merit as they compete with other princelings for a spot towards the top. The higher they climb, the more competitive it gets, even if it were just all the princelings competing with each other. In fact, the princelings are not the only ones made it to the top. If you read the bios, there are many who rise to the top without a pedigree. The current leader, Hu Jintao is one of those. Most likely, he got to the top based on his performance. Near the top, the people are not only capable, they are also seasoned at what they do as they gained various experience.
In the West, we have a case where a man is elected and re-elected to be the president of the United States, yet, by the account of Bill Clinton, someone who had served as a president himself, this person is an “amateur”. Further, he was picked not because of the achievements that he has made, but because he can talk, and a large swath of the population identifies with him.
There are many arguments against the China meritocracy model. Some say that the endemic corruption represents a failure in their system. Some pointed to the incident with Bo Xilai and the discovery of billions belonging to the current leader Wen Jiaboa as proof that the very top is rotten. Others are says that the Chinese system is not inclusive, that they should promote more women and minorities( yes, there are minorities in China just as there are in the U.,S.). Still others say that the past represented the low hanging fruit and the performance of the past will never be repeated again.
To me, the saga of Bo Xilai shows that the system works. You see, after decades of explosive growth, there are huge dislocation amongst the Chinese today. Many are dissatisfied with their lives and long for a simpler life of the Mao era, especially for many who either have forgotten how bad those years were, or were too young to know first hand. So in a democracy, Bo would still be in power representing these people. It is his base of power. The corruption of the party members also create more people who are not happy. The fact that the system can purge him represent a triumph of the reform ideas over the group that wanted to go back to the past.
While it is true that it is easier to start off growth from a low base, it is never the less very tough to change a large system going in a different direction. The Chinese joined the WTO in 2001. While there are many ways to shield competition and favor the state sector, it still represented a major jolt to the system. Many of the decrepit state firms were going to be put out of business. Millions would lose their jobs. Imagine Detroit, in the seventies and eighties, with the Japanese invasion in full swing, sign a treaty to open the city to more competition from Japan instead of smashing Hondas in front of reporters. China joining WTO was a far-sighted decision that entails a great deal of pain. Something that the West would have a hard time executing. Many China hands pointed out the big problems that China is facing today. I would argue that the problems that China faced twenty years ago were much more severe compared to the ones they face today. The fact that they managed to navigate through so many crisis which might sink a lesser government says something about the quality of the people running the show there.
Finally, we come to the issue of corruption. There is no doubt in my mind that every single one of the leadership is on the take. However, there is corruption, then there is corruption. In China, things get done even in face of corruption. The right decisions are made by the leadership to move the country forward. Contrast this with the corruption in India, where the Common Wealth Games, an event that is a small fraction of the Olympics, was badly mishandled. In fact, many of the foreign contractors, who were brought in to help save the day, were not paid when they sent the bill. That is right, the government stiffed these guys. Something unimaginable either in the U.S. or in China. You can think of corruption as integral to the functioning of the Chinese system. In the private sector, the motivating force for someone to climb the corporate ladder is to be rewarded financially. If you are a stock boy at Waltmart, you are making $10 an hour. If you become a CEO of WaltMart, you make tens of millions a year. If you are highly capable and have a good shot at becoming the CEO of a company, making millions, why would you want to join the government? In China, apparently, you join the government because you can make a lot of money through corruption. This brings in more capable people who would otherwise stay in the private sector. As long as there is work to keep the corruption in check and a system to promote based on one’s performance, corruption should not impact progress. Each of the top leaders making a couple of billion here and there over a decade does not damage an economy which produced 11 Trillion a year.
In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew instituted a system of salaries to the people running for public office based on their private sector pay. If you are a surgeon and wanted to run for an office, the office will pay you what an average surgeon would make. This way, you are not losing out financially if you wanted to serve the country. I think that corruption in China serves a similar goal.
In summary, I think that the Chinese way of selecting their leaders potentially are far superior to the way the U.S. select ours. They promote more competent people and give them the operational experience to succeed as they arrive at the top. Much like a corporation. Where as in a democracy, the leaders are as good as the constituents.
A Washington-based human rights organization says that, overall, press freedom around the world stopped declining in 2011. But while there are positive changes in some countries, the overall picture is not too bright. Last year, less than 15 percent of the world’s population had access to a free press.
The title of that news is:
So much for my appetite. And I started to drink more water:
For the first time in eight years, the negative trend that we’ve seen with the declines in freedom of expression around the world was staid and we actually saw some slight uptick and improvement, in large part due to gains in the Middle East,” said Radsch. “Libya, Tunisia, Egypt all went from ‘not free’ to ‘partly free,’ which was a pretty momentous change, and we also had countries like Burma that came out from under incredibly oppressive political rule
That’d be enough to make my stomach sick. Thanks, VOA.
Why I appear to be such a hateful and shameless jackass? Because I am really bigoted. I am just disgusted at how leftists disguised their indoctrination as “free press”. Hey fine for me if you are honest to admit 14.5% of the people are still not subject to our hypnosis with “our belief of dream“. But calling that piece of crap full of farce, gimmicks, useless sensational dabbling as free press? I’d have more respect for hard-core Islamic drilling. At least they didn’t put up with so much drama and claptrap to claim their superiority.
Off the rant, let’s take a look at who the hell wrote this piece of crap in the first place. I just can’t take it serious. The whole fuzz was set up by a Washington-based human rights organization, Freedom House in their freedom of expression campaign. Please, that’s what we need, another Washinton-based
USG-NGO. In its wiki page: “As of 2010, US federal government grants accounted for most of Freedom House’s funding”, not to mention the top levels are all associated with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, the right-on Ministry of Truth (1984 joke if you didn’t get it). And what about the thought police? Well, that piece of news offered a damn big picture of her. The picture says it all. You could find her name in that news. A perfect candidate of an agonized young white woman who looks unfit to get laid and turns to be a feminist freedom fighter. She can’t even be counted as a hipster with that extra pounds of hers. Yikes, I am gonna skip my breakfast.
The Slitty Eye is back. At least I would begin to log in my account and start to write something. This time, about Chinese Politics.
Chinese Politics has never been a glowing treasure chest that fascinates the west, for the people outside of that mysterious place know so little about what really is going on there. No one could figure out what is really going on beyond those emotionless high profile figures that occasionally visit some random countries or make some monotonic speeches. There are only loads of gossips, rumors, speculations, conspiracy theories that revolve around Zhongnanhai, . The Shanghai clique, the League clique, the Princelings… Those terms are possibly the way most exciting terms that are created for Chinese politics. Who cares about the forgetful names and faces in the central politburo anyway?
Long eroded by the show business mentality and leftist dogmas, the western media has never been an avid follower of Chinese politics except for its evil suppression on people’s freedom and equality, and of course, the catnip for western liberals: Tibet. Few really gives a damn on what it is going on with the real decision-makers and how they are trying so hard to put pieces together in this awfully big and messy country. The current government is probably the smartest of all time in managing China as far as I concern.
I often secretly relish the fact that we don’t have the western-style specious jokers in the politics, for I always think politics would be the most serious things on earth as it deals with literally everything. Clowns on the television blurring populist slogans and slurring on each other are not even those leftist ideological founders wished for in the first place.
Anyway, back to Chinese politics. A few days ago, a name that non-Chinese could barely pronounce, “Bo Xilai“, became a viral sensation that simply sweeps over major western media all of sudden. Described as “a charming, charismatic, and outspoken western-alike political figure” and labelled as a Chinese political supernova with his whooping socialist class-conflict campaign in the city of Chongqing, he was “unexpectedly” slashed and expelled from the politburo, stripped out of his official title, and put into a house arrest under a series of political and criminal investigation. Now that is a piece of classic politic news that the western media likes. The best part isn’t over yet. The linkage between Bo’s lawyer wife Gui Kailai and the mythic death of a Brit associated with M16 escalated public interest in Bo’s political death into an even higher level. Most of the articles I read in English about Bo share a sense of sympathy, with more focusing on his flamboyant personality and little on what his lousy politics. The subliminal message is loud and clear: Bo sounds just like our political entertainers, he was a great public entertainer, an outspoken dude with humanity, and most of all, he was trying to fight for the root class of Chongqing! It was a tragedy that he was doomed in the evil and authoritarian Chinese politics. For all they care, Bo could be the crack they always dream for, the Chinese “JFK”. And his wife is called as the Jackie Kennedy of China (though she was virtually unheard of among western media until the shit hits the fan, honestly I think she is more like a cold-blooded money sucking bitch). Bo could be China’s Yeltsin to take down the last major counter force of western liberalism.
Of course nobody gives a rat about his hedonistic son‘s hardcore clubbing in London and Beijing with Ferrari and women. Likewise, no one would make the effort to take a second look at how superficial and stupid his political campaigns are made. The dude was probably trying to create a noisy fuzz in Chongqing just to get himself back to Beijing (I bet he watched too much western TV soaps on politics). Thanks to his wife who probably murdered that English dude, he was finally ousted from Chinese politics. No more puppet charlatan in the politburo. This dude should have been born in Czech Republic, or Romania. He might make a big time there with his demagogic gimmicks.
No, I am really the man.
Once again I am glad that China holds probably one of the last bastions of the good old fashion politics. Politics should be about how the jobs are done, not some claptrap clamorous rendezvous with panache. You know who is cool? Hu Jintaois cool, for he has a sense of coolness in playing the political game instead of a drama show. Meritocracy in my view is far more superior than the idea of democracy. I am happy that no one calls his wife the Jackie Kennedy of China, no cone calls him charming and charismatic. The statesmen gotta be cool and smart, not emotional and entertaining. My last consolation about China.
Pure ass licking job. I don’t think political corruption is something peculiar in Czech Republic as well. While the west liberals brand this woman as a liberty-defender of the already screwed-up Ukraine and tried everything to protect her as if she is the righteous good guy against the the evil, she is no more than an opportunist who took advantage of the breakdown of the USSR. Why liberal mentality always has to label someone on their interest as the absolute good victim? How could such genuine nonsense become the principle of everyday hypnosis in our society?
Finally I have to break my rules here and for the first time talk about American politics. It’s not that I couldn’t care less about American politics, which I have to admit I do care very much as long as America is still the superpower and its politics would very much affect our modern civilization. I am just sick and tired of the level of absurdity it discerns. Neil Postman addressed the American politics as the biggest joke in the age of show business, I couldn’t agree more. In General, I am apathetic to those heated debates, for I associate myself with neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. But this time, the farce is going beyond one’s imagination.
Why? What happened? If you keep up with the news, these days the competition for the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election has been a major mass media sensation all over the place. A few hot shots stirred up the pie. People got super psyched, for they, being hypnotized by the axiom of entertainment since born, have already sniffed the super fun drama that is about to hit the screen. Then it came the live-broadcasting Republican debate show on CNN. One time wasn’t enough, then it came the second time. All gossips spatter around: contagious and touching campaign commercials, sex scandals, ad hominem, the hot daughter, and etc. A glamorous fair for the amusement of American audiences, and the most entertaining actor will eventually win the people’s “heart”.
Wait a second, what was the debate about? Hmm…. That doesn’t seem to matter. For all we know those are the cool guys on the screen, and they rock on stage! Apparently the show producers aren’t quite satisfied with the current rating. So the next stage is planned: Donald Trump will be invited to moderate the upcoming Republican presidential debate.
There goes the last remaining dignity of American politics (if any). It doesn’t even pretend to be serious any more. For the voters of the United States, this is THE popularity contest, this is the American Idol, this is the American Got Talented, this is the Miss America Pageant, this is the Apprentice, most of all, this is the quadrennial carnival of the USA.
Amusingly, Huntsman has declined to participate in that rigged live show and plans to hold a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Gingrich? Please, this smells like two attention whores scare of being overshadowed by Trump in his TV show and plan a duel to boost their likeness by the people. Well, people need to be entertained, and they provide with entertainment. But using the name of Lincoln and Douglas just to get more sympathy and attention, is, sheer low as well.
And liberals in the West bitch that Chinese don’t have the “privilege” for democracy? The privilege to watch a funny drama? Thanks but no thanks. We’d like to get things actually done.
It’d be the first and the last post about American
In a colosseum gladiators were forced to fight each other or against some wild beast for the entertainment of the crowd. In Balkan, former-Yugoslavia in particular, different ethnic groups were exactly reenacting the colosseum show after 2000 years, only this time we watch the whole thing through the news program of our TV channel.
Of course there’s one big brother behind the whole show: The Western governments (or Germany in particular). Look at the political burlesque in Bosnia first. What’s the point of maintaining the country if Serbs and Bosnians, presumably share the comparable demographic size living in different regions with little overlapping settlements, never want each other in the first place? As expected, the pseudo-nationhood of Bosnia and Herzegovina never really works. If not for the carrot and the stick of the European Commission, BH wouldn’t exist in the first place (probably the term Bosnian either).
Then the stage shifts southward to Kosovo. It’s hard to convince me that the West is merely stupid and ignorant to interfere in a region that’s already messed up for decades in hope of solving those problems at once. I mean, there must be some other reasons other than a leftist scam. The situation in Kosovo is 10 times more screwed than that of Bosnia. The Albanian gangsterism is not something driven by the atrocity of Serbs in Balkan. It always has been there for years. NATO came, Serbs retreated. The next thing you know Albanian mafia runs the “country” now. If you say it’s a darn leftist scam. Then all right. Based on the principle of self-determinism, Albanians could probably get some kind of leftist legitimacy for the secession. But the implementation of the leftist principle seems to stop there, as apparently the northern Kosovo, which still remains predominantly Serbs demographically, is not allowed to rule by themselves and break away from Albanians Kosovo to join Serbia (They wouldn’t hesitate if they are allowed for a referendum). By leftist standards they are the minorities in Kosovo and therefore should be specially favored. Instead, NATO did everything they could to help the Albanians assert their authority over the Northern Serbs, over and over again. You expect the Serbs would just lay down and let them ravage over?
The most ridiculous part is, while EU find it extremely annoying to deal with the Serbs minorities in Kosovo, they simply turned shitface on Belgrade, blackmailing them if they dare to support their brothers down south they’d be forever banned from the possibility to join the mighty European Union. Well, eurocrats like to use this trick on Serbia. But do the eurocrats themselves really believe that one day Serbia would be part of the impeccable European Union (after their painful eastward expansion and economic crunch)? Unlikely. As far as I concern, they just want to nibble Serbia to the last straw, stripping off their privilege in Balkan after the fall of iron curtain. But then it leads to another question, why is EU so persistent in disintegrating the region just to screw up the Serbs? You don’t expect to tell me they do that just for the sake of many minority groups there so that they could be free from the Serbian despotism? The West never really considered Yugoslavia a major threat back in the days anyway. There must be another explanation about what they are really after in the region.
In the beginning, people speak different and act different for they live in distance. For instance in Europe nobles wouldn’t really bother teaching the peasants the same language they speak; and peasants wouldn’t really mind if the government post something that they could not understand on the city wall. After some successful political marriage it was pretty common in Medieval Europe that different regions (some don’t even share geographical borders) with different local languages and people share the same lord. Think about the Habsburg Dynasty. They had half Europe at the time. They even used different court languages to govern their vast dominion. It was the political norm for the feudal system in Europe, way before the emergence of modern nationalism. People were much more relaxed at the definition of border and nationality (though religion was a pretty serious matter for the identity). The definition of modern nationhood, one nation one people on language, came with the drastic French Revolution at the end of 18th century. As increasingly centralized polity imposed deliberate assimilation policy upon different local groups (i.e. like the spread of French in France or Belgium), local groups would also be awakened to resist the alien influence. In most cases the big power won. That’s why you got Germans are Germans, French are French, Italians are Italian nowadays. Occasionally locals managed to resist the imposition. That’s how those small nationalism movement emerged, such as the Flemish, the Baltic countries, the Basque, etc. After this what I call dramatic shuffling, the modern international political structure came to the stasis. People would move even for the sake of switching to different ethnic regime in between some artificial boundaries (like the Turk/Greek swap deal, or the expulsion of the Germans in Eastern Europe). In those wild days, borders change all the time, people come and go, some becomes prominent, some disappears, few stays the same. Nationhood and the border were not as sacred and eternal as we take for granted nowadays.
After years of struggle with the rise of modern nationalism, in today’s politics, most countries have one predominant majority of identity and language. A nation, defined by its geographical border is sacred and inviolable. This is the first thing that would cross over people’s mind when thinking of their country. What’s more, the few surviving local groups want to be out of their masters after the failed attempt of assimilation. Then big countries split into a number of small countries, like the case of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and even Georgia. As extreme as they appear, those peanuts size national movements are merely the extending tail of the whole modern nationalism movement starting 200 years ago.
But what’s the real trend now? As mentioned above, modern nationalism is coming to a dead end. Only small groups of laggards are still whining about the pie they didn’t taste, like Basque, Kosovo, or even Catalonia. The rest majority of people in the modern civilization are, on the contrary, a bit bored and tired of such modern tradition, especially after two biggest national wars. So people started to eye on the next step to find something to associate with… This is when things get out of control…
Out of control how? Out of control when people start to think that all humans should be treated equally and multiculturalism in a post-nationalism era is beautiful. So nationhood becomes less and less important now and borders are the symbols of old rigid outdated system. Intellectuals plan to break down the old ethnocentrism and build up something way larger to stimulate another rapid development just like nationalism did to us back then, as larger scale in polity brings larger potential of scientific advancement (people stay more focused). The first thing that needs to be gone is the nationhood and then the borders. But so far only the integration of European Union makes sense to me as the potential 1+1>2 game to reinvigorate Europe. The rest of those movements? There are simple too much discrepancy among the groups of people involved. Clustering the nationhood and borders only makes sense when the groups involved are somewhat in common at culture, IQ, economy etc. The whole ethnocentrism still remains strong despite being at the downward spiral, and we need to take that into consideration. The concept of nationhood would remain, but the entity of an independent polity would be upgraded. But then again, if it could not even be enforced effectively in Europe, then we certainly should forget about unconditional multiculturalism and think of other options to sustain our modern civilization.