Twofish's Blog

June 15, 2006

Comments on Howard French article

Filed under: china — twofish @ 12:14 am

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/14/news/letter.php

It's not usual for poltiical systems to be interested in what seems like "trivial" matters.  Note the US interest in gay marriage, and just because the Chinese government is interested in controlling trivial matter X doesn't mean that it cares about trivial matter Y.  One thing that I've learned is that when people are interested in some apparently trivial matter, it usually means that there is something that isn't that trivial involved.

As far as the building boom and one-child policy.  I think French is being much too dismissive.  Yes, China is going to be rapidly aging around 2020, but people have seen this coming, and there are likely to be huge increases in productivity as China industrializes.  The building boom is also much to complex to summarize in one paragraph.  Also, as far as markets go, yes markets are a good thing, but markets involve creating state institutions to support them, and French misses the other side of the current (and healthy) debate in China that argues that markets have gone too far.  The state hasn't issues a license to show MI-III and the DaVinci Code, but I'd bet you can find pirated DVD's, and if you watch them, the police aren't going to break down your door.

As far as the "Chinese people rising up and overthrowing the oppressors."  There is too much of the Marxist feel, and it is really condescending.  When the people know the truth, they will rebel implies that they aren't rebelling because they are ignorant now, and that misses a lot of the complexity that exists in China. 

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1 Comment »

  1. Again, I find myself agreeing with you. The foreign media loves to write about things like Google and The DaVinci Code, while ignoring that just about all of China’s elites have easy access to banned movies and workarounds to see just about anything on the net. I am not denying China is guilty of censorship, because obviously it is. But, I agree with you that it is condescending and simplistic to think China’s citizens are going along with the government only because they are so ignorant. In fact, it seems that every survey indicates rampant optimism in China today. Of course, the skeptics would say “dumb and happy,” but I don’t think so.

    Comment by China Law Blog — June 15, 2006 @ 4:30 pm


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