Flashpoint Hong Kong: China rules out democracy for the former British territory

posted at 5:01 pm on August 31, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Before 1997, the city of Hong Kong had been a British colony for 156 years. The reintroduction of that bustling capitalist city into communist China was always thought to be a risky proposition. It was China’s Deng Xiaoping who crafted a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems” in the 1980s, which was aimed at assuaging concerns in Hong Kong that their way of life would persist even after the Union Jack was lowered and the flag of the People’s Republic was raised in its place.

Well, the reintegration process has finally begun and Beijing has determined that the semi-autonomous province will no longer have its own politics as well as its own economic system. The Chinese government rejected calls from democracy activists aimed at allowing Hong Kong residents to directly elect their own leadership. Beijing would be vetting any prospective candidate to first determine their suitability for office.

“The nominating committee shall nominate two to three candidates for the office of Chief Executive in accordance with democratic procedure. Each candidate must have the endorsement of more than half of all the members of the nominating committee,” read the decision from China’s National People’s Congress.

This has not gone over well with local residents and pro-Democracy activists who took to the streets to protest the decision of the NPC. “Hong Kong people have the reason to believe they have been betrayed,” one pro-Democracy activists and legislator told reporters with the Wall Street Journal. “We cannot be the boss, we cannot have genuine choice.”

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong gathered Sunday evening outside the city’s government headquarters, where Hong Kong police beefed up security and erected barricades. In pouring rain, a crowd of some hundreds of people sat banging pots and plastic containers and cheered the speakers.

Benny Tai, one of the organizers of Occupy Central, said, “Hong Kong is now entering a new era — a new era of resistance.”

Several in the crowd were middle-aged or older. “I knew it wasn’t possible for Beijing to grant Hong Kong democracy but I still have to fight,” said 80-year-old Ng Hung. “I am here for the next generation.”

Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central,” ironically a genuine pro-Democracy movement quite unlike the Occupy protests which flared briefly in the United States in 2011, has adopted this latest assault on the sovereignty of the people of Hong Kong as a rallying moment. While polls indicated that a majority of the city’s residents did not agree with the movement’s grievances or goals before, China’s overreach may galvanize city residents against Beijing.


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I’m distressed with the thought that the Chinese might actually do something the Soviets utterly failed at – to disprove liberal democracy.

Every year the average Chinese citizen seems to get wealthier and happier and is utterly unconcerned with his total lack of freedom. I know there are exceptions, but exceptions are not majorities. The Chinese system really should have collapsed decades ago, and it hasn’t. That’s worrying.

TaraMaclay on August 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

There are probably still more Mao supporters in Hollyweird than there are in Hong Kong.

viking01 on August 31, 2014 at 5:10 PM

TaraMaclay on August 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

The Chinese work ethic is much older and deeper than Chinese communism. The only miracle is, given 60 years, the communists couldn’t destroy it.

RBMN on August 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming…

And just to be a bit snarky…

“The nominating committee shall nominate two to three candidates for the office of Chief Executive in accordance with democratic procedure. Each candidate must have the endorsement of more than half of all the members of the nominating committee,”

How’s this any different from our “Democracy” these days?

Skywise on August 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

The Chinese work ethic is much older and deeper than Chinese communism. The only miracle is, given 60 years, the communists couldn’t destroy it.

RBMN on August 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

It only took 6 years here.

Walter L. Newton on August 31, 2014 at 5:18 PM

In otherwords, the rulers need to pick Hong Kong’s pocket to pay for their lifestyle. I’ve been reading that China’s economy is in a bubble that’s about to burst. This is a way of staving that off. Of course all it will do is ruin Hong Kong’s economy.

rbj on August 31, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Taiwan is next…obama…out golfing and fundraising, goofing off…yes, they can.

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM

the People’s Republic

It is not a people’s republic.

itsnotaboutme on August 31, 2014 at 5:28 PM

A couple of things:

Everyday Chinese people are not becoming better off. There are two China’s: The city folks – who yes, are becoming well of and live largely like westerners (minus freedom). Then, there is the country side – where most Chinese people live – which is essentially a massive third world country. Over the past decade the large and abandoned cities of condos China has built were meant for these people, none of whom moved in and abandoned their way of lives. These are the people who work in factories and on farms, building the things China sells to us.

China’s problem is this: To become modern, they have to get those people out of the factories and fields and into modern lives (like the city dwellers.) But, if those people stop working the fields and the factories then China will no longer be able to make the money that it does as an export economy (keeping the ruling class in the cities rich). Unlike when we abandoned being a production economy and started importing goods, China has no other place to dump the worlds production onto (as we did to them), and no means of staying rich if they do.

China is no longer a communist country. They are a massive oligarchy. The leaders call themselves “communists” but they represent the wealthy city dwellers who live in luxury (far from Mao, who while a monster, stayed true to his country side roots). They dictate like monarchs to the third world Chinese citizens, then sell what they produce in the worlds free markets.

It is strange really. Inwardly they are a dictatorial, oligarchic regime while outwardly they act like capitalists. Unlike capitalists though the government takes the profits and hands them to the rich folks in the cities.

Unfortunately for China this will not last. Deficit hawks in the U.S. would have instant heart atticks if they could ever see the inside of the books being cooked up in China’s treasury. Those massive empty cities they have built recently are never going to be filled, and someday their economy is going to crash as a result.

While it is bad for Hong Kong to be assimilating into China right now I believe it will be a good thing over the long term. When the Chinese system does finally start to crumble it is going to be extremely valuable to have a massive, pro democracy city in the mix fighting for what the future of the country should look like.

Throughout China’s entire history the country has grown, unified, become strong, then crashed and splintered. Over and over and over. There is no reason to believe this current experiment will not end the same way.

eski502 on August 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

While polls indicated that a majority of the city’s residents did not agree with the movement’s grievances or goals before, China’s overreach may galvanize city residents against Beijing.

What is equivalent of Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong?

Fenris on August 31, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Before becoming addicted to Chris Chappel’s China Uncensored YouTube updates, I was no more interested in China than the next guy. But his delightful combination of news, sarcastic wit, & good editing is building an army of China watchers from around the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oon6ErX_AF8&list=UUgFP46yVT-GG4o1TgXn-04Q

BTW, I first learned of C.U. from a HotAir comment.
I wish I could remember whose it was.

itsnotaboutme on August 31, 2014 at 5:38 PM

eski502 on August 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Brilliant summary.
Thanks!

itsnotaboutme on August 31, 2014 at 5:40 PM

The oaf, who’s chief, and ignorant dilettante, like none other in the world.

H/t Del

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Every year the average Chinese citizen seems to get wealthier and happier and is utterly unconcerned with his total lack of freedom. I know there are exceptions, but exceptions are not majorities. The Chinese system really should have collapsed decades ago, and it hasn’t. That’s worrying.

TaraMaclay on August 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Tara, every year the average Chinese citizen does not get wealthier. The average Chinese citizen is one of hundreds of millions of poor bastards who still live in the country as peasants. Or go to the cities to be abused with pathetic pay to do menial or dangerous work. Or go underground to be buried alive in shoddy Chinese mines.

Scopper on August 31, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming…

And just to be a bit snarky…

“The nominating committee shall nominate two to three candidates for the office of Chief Executive in accordance with democratic procedure. Each candidate must have the endorsement of more than half of all the members of the nominating committee,”

How’s this any different from our “Democracy” these days?

Skywise on August 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Great observation.

coolrepublica on August 31, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Every year the average Chinese citizen seems to get wealthier and happier and is utterly unconcerned with his total lack of freedom. I know there are exceptions, but exceptions are not majorities. The Chinese system really should have collapsed decades ago, and it hasn’t. That’s worrying.

TaraMaclay on August 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Tara, every year the average Chinese citizen does not get wealthier. The average Chinese citizen is one of hundreds of millions of poor bastards who still live in the country as peasants. Or go to the cities to be abused with pathetic pay to do menial or dangerous work. Or go underground to be buried alive in shoddy Chinese mines.

Scopper on August 31, 2014 at 6:00 PM

So what you saying is America has become China. Or is it the other way around?

coolrepublica on August 31, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Beijing has determined that the semi-autonomous province will no longer have its own politics

Ruh roh.

petefrt on August 31, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Apparently, people were noticing that lack of freedom.

formwiz on August 31, 2014 at 6:21 PM

and from his perch in Shanghai…..Dark Current smiles.

renalin on August 31, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Paging DarkCurrent, Paging DarkCurrent. Chinese propogandist needed at HotAir.

NWConservative on August 31, 2014 at 6:39 PM

So what you saying is America has become China. Or is it the other way around?

coolrepublica on August 31, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Not yet, but give us enough time under Progressive policies and you can be sure it’ll get that way.

Buck Farky on August 31, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Taiwan is next…obama…out golfing and fundraising, goofing off…yes, they can.

Schadenfreude on August 31, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Don’t we have a treaty w/ Taiwan to protect their independence ?
What is the current status ? ( leaving o’s proclivities out of it )
Sucks about Hong Kong , the most vibrant place I’ve ever seen .

Lucano on August 31, 2014 at 7:38 PM

China has multiple problems, and needs cash internally because of the debt structure that has been built.

First there is debt to the outside world, the investors who, in the ’90s, put cash into China expecting a good return on their debt vehicles and to cash out making a bundle. Save that China keeps on rolling over the debt vehicles… that isn’t how it is supposed to work and points to a cash problem inside China – there is no way to repay the exterior loans and keep things running.

Second is the debt-turnover problem. Yes, China builds lovely factories and manufacturing plants based on loans that the Central Government directs the banks to give. And when those businesses fail they leave that lovely manufacturing plant behind… and hit up their buddies at the Central Committee for some more cash and never repay their old debt. Then the banks realized they could make a killing on this and even after the Central Committee told them to stop lending money like that, they continued to do so. Of course no one actually meant for the money flow to stop.

This leads to the third part – unofficial inflation. Not just due to the ever less valuable currency, which is now so debt riddled it isn’t funny, but also to the debt the policies of the Central Committee make that then get loaded into the national debt structure. China is always extremely careful to make it look like they are doing great financially, save when you start to poke around and ask questions you can find yourself in jail. If it was all on the up and up that wouldn’t happen.

Fourth is the long term demographic change due to the One Child Policy. Yes, never strictly adhered to save where the authorities had an iron fist, it has been enough to change the direction in China’s population growth. The generation now retiring… or just dying off… has fewer people to replace it. That isn’t just in the highly polluted industrial areas but also in the Chinese hinterland where the elderly got left behind to tend the crops. What happens when there aren’t enough people to tend the crops and there is no capital to invest in modern farming? What happens when the policies for agriculture cause an ongoing dust bowl in the heartland of China? China’s great claim to fame is that it could always feed its own people. That will soon not be the case, as even with fewer people around there will be far fewer on the dirt poor farms in destitute farming communities than there are in the cities. Perhaps some strong man will put the Intelligentsia to work on the farms… Mao did that.

Maoist ideals are coming back into play in some of the central provinces where the readings from The Little Red Book are now back on the air and listening to them mandatory. What would Mao make of the modern China? We may soon find out. That is the easy number five.

Number six and rising in problematic realms, is that the Uighars now are getting renewed support from their friends along the Afghan and Pakistani border regions, with explosive effects. The Central Committee clamps down on the news from the far hinterlands, but cellphones still get the messages out. Well, the PLA can always be deployed, I guess…

At seven is the Great Circle criminal organization that is part and parcel of the PLA – People’s Liberation Army – and have assiduously used their contacts to help the regime and line their own pockets. The criminals work for the State… or is it the other way around? So hard to tell there just like in Russia.

Eighth is Vietnam. Want low cost, relatively high skilled labor to compete with China? Vietnam is the place to go. Sucks to be China where even a slightly better than absolute poverty average wage can now be undercut. Wonder if the PLA will be sent to ‘fix’ that? Probably not. Because…

Ninth is a little fishing village, sleepy, happy and just about ready to be bought out by the Elites. No one told the fisherfolk that. They armed up, set up guard posts and forced the powers that be to the negotiating table after beating back the police. Multiple times. Say, maybe the PLA is needed there, too?

Tenth is pollution and China makes old Industrial Belt America look like a scion of clean operations. Mind you that is early, black sky, people dying young of inhaled soot Industrial Belt America we are talking about. Beijing estimates that it is losing $1 trillion per year in health care costs due to just pollution. And that is just to people missing work, hospitalized, etc. Who knows what that means out in the dust bowl areas. Maybe the PLA can be handed seives, shovels and find a big landfill for the stuff. Or employ some of the migrant workers who have to roam from job to job due to firms going under when the easy money runs out.

So to get some cash into the kitty, the Central Committee promised that all would be well if people invested what little money they did have in building new cities! And then they could live off the rent income! Grand! Wonderful! And a great… set of ghost cities was born with modern buildings, modern roads, modern schools and no one in them. Entire port facilities were built and now stand empty. Airports without crews to run the towers or any crews anywhere to be seen.

Now it is Hong Kong. Say what else could go right in China? And is there a final straw for this camel’s back? Will it be some sort of protest in HK that will have to be ‘ended’ and then find a new fishing village problem? Or will the Uighars decide to go Big in Beijing? Will the dust bowl extend from the Taklamakan Desert all the way to the coast? Will the money system spin wildly out of control or will people simply starve as even rice costs too much and the cardboard has to get some soy sauce on it and that stuff costs money, too…

I’m always told that China is ‘the next big threat’.

To itself, maybe.

And if there is a bad harvest, a really bad one, and the old people start to die off at a fast pace, then just who will feed China?

ajacksonian on August 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Don’t we have a treaty w/ Taiwan to protect their independence ?
What is the current status ? ( leaving o’s proclivities out of it )
Sucks about Hong Kong , the most vibrant place I’ve ever seen .

Lucano on August 31, 2014 at 7:38 PM

You mean like the one with Ukraine?

Hahahaha! With 0Zero in office, it’s worth about the same.

IrishEyes on August 31, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Don’t we have a treaty w/ Taiwan to protect their independence ?
What is the current status ? ( leaving o’s proclivities out of it )
Sucks about Hong Kong , the most vibrant place I’ve ever seen .

Lucano on August 31, 2014 at 7:38 PM

The Taiwan Relations Act is still in effect, but it doesn’t stipulate that we protect their independence. It’s geared toward preserving the status quo by maintaining a system of ambiguity. In the event of Red Chinese hostility, it would be up to the President and Congress to determine the appropriate level of response. When Beijing tried to intimidate Taiwanese voters ahead of the 1996 presidential election (basically the first free and open presidential election in Taiwan’s history) by launching missiles into the waters off Taiwan’s coast, Bill Clinton and company actually got it right and sent the 5th and 7th fleets to the neighborhood. I don’t think anyone here is under the delusion that our current president would lift a damn finger to help the Taiwanese.

As my wife and daughter are both Taiwanese citizens (daughter’s a dual citizen), I can tell you that I often have white knuckles waiting for 1/20/17.

KGB on August 31, 2014 at 8:11 PM

While polls indicated that a majority of the city’s residents did not agree with the movement’s grievances or goals before, China’s overreach may galvanize city residents against Beijing.

It won’t matter. The chicoms will simply crush them while Obama is on the 15th hole. He will later express ‘concern’ from Martha’s Vineyard.

AUINSC on August 31, 2014 at 8:37 PM

How’s this any different from our “Democracy” these days?

Skywise on August 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

The days of America looking down on other countries (yes, hard to fathom, but including France) is coming to an end.

And it’s not because they’re better than we are…it’s that we allowed the same Socialist, NWO scum that have wrecked what little those countries had going for them to do the same over here.

“The Courtier disdaineth the citizen;
The citizen the countryman;
the shoemaker the cobbler.
But unfortunate is the man who does not have anyone he can look down upon.”
~ Tomas Nash, 1593

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 31, 2014 at 8:44 PM

This has not gone over well with local residents and pro-Democracy activists who took to the streets to protest the decision of the NPC.

You really thought they were going to let you continue going your own way? What’s the Chinese word for “naive”?

How’s this any different from our “Democracy” these days?

Skywise on August 31, 2014 at 5:17 PM

We call our nominating committee the “media”!

It is not a people’s republic.

itsnotaboutme on August 31, 2014 at 5:28 PM

The proper way to say it is, “Sorry, neither.” (That’s a ST:TOS quote, for the non-geeks.)

GWB on August 31, 2014 at 9:36 PM

See? That right THERE is the issue with Hong Kong and with the USA – 80 year olds! They remember what Democracy and Capitalism is!

The next generation? For the USA it will be dependents on the state and for China it will be nationalists.

Democracy will fade into the history books and Quo Vadis the 3 hour movie will no longer be shown on TCM

athenadelphi on August 31, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Oh Noes!!! You mean you CAN’T get what you want just by voting for it????

WryTrvllr on August 31, 2014 at 10:37 PM

TaraMaclay on August 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

You do realize that MILLIONS of American jobs are why the system hasn’t collapsed, right?

KMC1 on August 31, 2014 at 11:21 PM

That sucks. I was fortunate enough to visit Hong Kong a couple times while I was active duty and that city is unbelievably awesome. Now the Chinese government is going to do exactly that, use HK’s economy to continue to prop themselves up. I feel bad for the people of that fine city.

JAGonzo on August 31, 2014 at 11:49 PM

Everyday Chinese people are not becoming better off. There are two China’s: The city folks – who yes, are becoming well of and live largely like westerners (minus freedom). Then, there is the country side – where most Chinese people live – which is essentially a massive third world country. Over the past decade the large and abandoned cities of condos China has built were meant for these people, none of whom moved in and abandoned their way of lives. These are the people who work in factories and on farms, building the things China sells to us.

eski502 on August 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Wrong. The majority of Chinese are now urban and about 15 million people per year are moving from rural areas to cities.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 12:53 AM

Those massive empty cities they have built recently are never going to be filled, and someday their economy is going to crash as a result.

eski502 on August 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

And wrong again.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 1:04 AM

The bad news:

According to Wiki, about 137,000,000 Chinese citizens earn less than US$1 per day, & hundreds of millions more are almost as impoverished.

The BBC says income inequality is huge in China:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13945072

The Economist agrees:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2013/01/income-inequality

The good news?

DarkCurrent just earned a dollar. :)

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 1:48 AM

Hong Kong has benefited from reunification. Now Hong Kong’s post colonial experiment comes to an end.

lexhamfox on September 1, 2014 at 1:50 AM

The bad news:

According to Wiki, about 137,000,000 Chinese citizens earn less than US$1 per day, & hundreds of millions more are almost as impoverished.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 1:48 AM

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 1:48 AM

And yet the per capita GDP is more than double that of the Philippines where according to Wiki:

The decline in poverty has been slow and uneven, much slower than neighboring countries who experienced broadly similar numbers in the 1980s,[4] such as People’s Republic of China (PRC), Thailand, Indonesia (where the poverty level lies at 8.5%) or Vietnam (13.5%).

Meanwhile…

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:15 AM

And wrong again.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 1:04 AM

Sounds like Pol Pot in reverse:

On the ground, however, the new wave of urbanization is well under way. Almost every province has large-scale programs to move farmers into housing towers, with the farmers’ plots then given to corporations or municipalities to manage. Efforts have been made to improve the attractiveness of urban life, but the farmers caught up in the programs typically have no choice but to leave their land.

The costs of this top-down approach can be steep. In one survey by Landesa in 2011, 43 percent of Chinese villagers said government officials had taken or tried to take their land. That is up from 29 percent in a 2008 survey.

“In a lot of cases in China, urbanization is the process of local government driving farmers into buildings while grabbing their land,” said Li Dun, a professor of public policy at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Farmers are often unwilling to leave the land because of the lack of job opportunities in the new towns. Working in a factory is sometimes an option, but most jobs are far from the newly built towns. And even if farmers do get jobs in factories, most lose them when they hit age 45 or 50, since employers generally want younger, nimbler workers.

“For old people like us, there’s nothing to do anymore,” said He Shifang, 45, a farmer from the city of Ankang in Shaanxi Province who was relocated from her family’s farm in the mountains. “Up in the mountains we worked all the time. We had pigs and chickens. Here we just sit around and people play mah-jongg.”

Leaving the Land: China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 3:10 AM

Leaving the Land: China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 3:10 AM

Interesting quote from your link:

But south of Chengdu in Shuangliu County, farmers who gave up their land for an experimental strawberry farm run by a county-owned company said they receive an annual payment equivalent to the price of 2,000 pounds of grain plus the chance to earn about $8 a day working on the new plantation.

“I think it’s O.K., this deal,” said Huang Zifeng, 62, a farmer in the village of Paomageng who gave up his land to work on the plantation. “It’s more stable than farming your own land.”

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 3:56 AM

Well, there you have it. The State knows best. Who needs your own land and independence (including the prospect of failure) when the Party can (maybe) get you work on a plantation and gives you rice in exchange for self-determination.

Interesting mix of isms going on here-feudalism (serfdom), socialism, communism and capitalism.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 5:01 AM

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:15 AM

Whatever! LOL

Your frequent “defense” of China–attacking the Philippines–is incredibly fascinating.
As I’ve said, no one here denies that the Philippine economic policies are disastrous.
I’m baffled & intrigued as to your thought process.
It’s reminiscent of Obama defenders responding to his critics by shouting, “But Boooosh!,” to people who acknowledge Bush’s faults.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 5:05 AM

Whatever! LOL

Your frequent “defense” of China–attacking the Philippines–is incredibly fascinating.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 5:05 AM

I’m not attacking the Philippines, I’m simply using it as a point of comparison in responding to your comments regarding China since you happen to live there.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 5:55 AM

I’m not attacking the Philippines, I’m simply using it as a point of comparison in responding to your comments regarding China since you happen to live there.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 5:55 AM

OK…

“Mud is dirty.”

“No, it’s not! Because pond scum is really dirty!”

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Interesting quote from your link:

But south of Chengdu in Shuangliu County, farmers who gave up their land for an experimental strawberry farm run by a county-owned company said they receive an annual payment equivalent to the price of 2,000 pounds of grain plus the chance to earn about $8 a day working on the new plantation.

“I think it’s O.K., this deal,” said Huang Zifeng, 62, a farmer in the village of Paomageng who gave up his land to work on the plantation. “It’s more stable than farming your own land.”

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 3:56 AM

胡說八道。 That’s the best justification you can come up with for the CCP’s policy of forcible relocation, that some people like it? Yikes.

KGB on September 1, 2014 at 8:23 AM

That’s the best justification you can come up with for the CCP’s policy of forcible relocation, that some people like it? Yikes.

KGB on September 1, 2014 at 8:23 AM

It wasn’t a justification at all. I just found it interesting. I didn’t know some farmers were being compensated in that way rather than with a one-time payment.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 9:43 AM

OK…
“Mud is dirty.”
“No, it’s not! Because pond scum is really dirty!”

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Perhaps my implicit point was too subtle for you.

You brought up the problem of poverty in China in a thread about democracy there.

I brought up the worse case of the Philippines, an ostensibly democratic country that you’re very familiar with, to illustrate that democracy doesn’t necessarily reduce the problem of poverty in developing nations.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 9:50 AM

On the brighter side, perhaps the young generation of Taiwanese who are now looking romantically at reunification with China will finally learn something true about communists from this event

Dr Snooze on September 1, 2014 at 9:56 AM

As I’ve said, no one here denies that the Philippine economic policies are disastrous.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 5:05 AM

Perhaps my implicit point was too subtle for you.

You brought up the problem of poverty in China in a thread about democracy there…

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The problem is not your subtlety.

The minor problem is that you keep responding to old threads.
The major problem is that you keep trying to justify the evil semi-communist oligarchy.

Again, no one here denies that Philippine economic policies are disastrous.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

The major problem is that you keep trying to justify the evil semi-communist oligarchy.

Again, no one here denies that Philippine economic policies are disastrous.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

I haven’t tried to justify anything here. I’ve simply pointed out factual errors and flawed thinking.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 10:15 AM

While polls indicated that a majority of the city’s residents did not agree with the movement’s grievances or goals before, China’s overreach may galvanize city residents against Beijing.

That may be wishful thinking Noah.

Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong marched to protest threats by activist groups to paralyze the city’s financial district if China refuses to allow direct leadership elections, underlining the division in the city.

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy put yesterday’s turnout at 193,000 people, compared with the 88,000 estimate by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 10:21 AM

China wants the wealth and manufacturing abilities of Hong Kong.
The WEAKNESS of the USA and it’s leadership has embolden China. They know that the person in the whitehouse WILL NOT do anything to stop the communist take over of Hong Kong! Because of the WEAKNESS of the USA the world is falling apart. ISIS, Hamas and the other muslum terrorist have no reason to fever the USA anymore.

harvey1 on September 1, 2014 at 11:06 AM

China wants the wealth and manufacturing abilities of Hong Kong.
The WEAKNESS of the USA and it’s leadership has embolden China. They know that the person in the whitehouse WILL NOT do anything to stop the communist take over of Hong Kong!

harvey1 on September 1, 2014 at 11:06 AM

You realize Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, right?

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Flashpoint America: Dear leader rules out democracy for the former USofA. fify.

Kissmygrits on September 1, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Well Duuhhh. What did they expect. No one is so gullible as a progressive, socialist, or near socialist. They even believe “sure I love you, baby.”

Old Country Boy on September 1, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Wrong. The majority of Chinese are now urban and about 15 million people per year are moving from rural areas to cities.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 12:53 AM

Bulldozing a village and putting up an out of place skyscraper does not make people urban, and simply being called urban does not make them well off. Even if China forcefully moves the whole country side into all these new developments those people will all still be a disadvantaged second class in comparison to the ruling classes in real cities like Peking.

Also, a few photos of buildings with cars outside of them does not at all make China’s developments a success. There are still hundreds of thousands of abandoned buildings in China…. and even if, as I said, you forceful put people into buildings that does not make them a success. You need people to PAY to live in those buildings for them to ever be considered worth while. Otherwise the deficit heart attack is coming.

eski502 on September 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM

On the brighter side, perhaps the young generation of Taiwanese who are now looking romantically at reunification with China will finally learn something true about communists from this event

Dr Snooze on September 1, 2014 at 9:56 AM

There have always been a few 外省人 types who retain their love for the mainland, but the younger generation in Taiwan continues to retain a healthy skepticism of what closer ties with Beijing will mean; witness this year’s Sunflower Student Movement.

KGB on September 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Bulldozing a village and putting up an out of place skyscraper does not make people urban, and simply being called urban does not make them well off. Even if China forcefully moves the whole country side into all these new developments those people will all still be a disadvantaged second class in comparison to the ruling classes in real cities like Peking.

Also, a few photos of buildings with cars outside of them does not at all make China’s developments a success. There are still hundreds of thousands of abandoned buildings in China…. and even if, as I said, you forceful put people into buildings that does not make them a success. You need people to PAY to live in those buildings for them to ever be considered worth while. Otherwise the deficit heart attack is coming.

eski502 on September 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Peking? Heh.

It’s odd that after 9 years living in China and a quarter of a century of traveling all over it I haven’t seen these ‘hundreds of thousands’ of abandoned buildings. Where can I find one?

Apparently you have much better first-hand knowledge of the situation here and aren’t just relying on some bs you want to believe. Perhaps you can share some of the things you’ve personally seen in China? You can click on my alias to see what it looks like to me.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Well Duuhhh. What did they expect. No one is so gullible as a progressive, socialist, or near socialist. They even believe “sure I love you, baby.”

Old Country Boy on September 1, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I suspect that many of them want the “perks” (if you can call them that) of living in a Socialist system and those of the Capitalist system. That is, they want social and economic equality while at the same time having great freedoms and the prospect of doing well for themselves.

They think that you can have Socialism/Communism and yet be truly free and prosperous. They can’t see that it’s really one or the other. The Socialist-Capitalist hybrid is doomed, as are both of these entities individually. Socialism is dead. Capitalism is dead.

Capitalism is dead because the key word here, “capital” refers to a great amount of wealth being accumulated by individuals and companies who then use that wealth to expand, invest, and innovate. Our modern infrastructure, particularly the tech stuff, cannot survive without ongoing infusions of capital. You can’t build your own integrated circuits nor transistors in your garage no matter how clever or good with your hands you are. Even Steve Jobs depended upon existing chips and other technologies to build his first computers.

What we’re seeing instead is that capital is being hoarded and stolen. It’s benefiting fewer and fewer people…because those with a Socialist (or mercantile, or oligarchical, whatever, or out and out crooks) mindset are increasingly controlling it.

Socialism was truly DOA. It cannot function without Capitalism to “clothe and feed” it and yet it cannot compete with Capitalism.

I’m curious to know what that leaves Mankind?

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Many moons ago when I was on a bus going somewhere for Army training, I was reading a paperback novel about an accomplished IRA operative in the USA. A fellow cadet asked me what I was reading. I told him. He said that’s all bullshit you know. He proceeded to tell me how he had lived in Ireland (I think as an exchange student?), and had hung around IRA supporters and they apparently made him see the light. The IRA were freedom fighters and all this terrorism stuff was propaganda.

When I didn’t pronounce “Sinn Fein” correctly during the course of our “discussion” I pretty much had to shut up.

Of course, I still believe the IRA did bomb and murder civilians and of course some they had captured for being informants and the like, and certainly their Protestant equivalents and the British Army did their fair share along those lines…but anyway.

I couldn’t tell a Vietnam Veteran how he and his squad should have fought the Viet Cong and how they could have increased the body count…I wasn’t there.

But I could very easily have much greater knowledge about what was going on in the Johnson and Nixon administrations (or even in Hanoi for that matter) than a grunt who was actually doing the fighting. Not having been a soldier serving in Vietnam during the war does not exclude me from analyzing and commenting upon what happened there. Certainly one could learn more from someone else’s perspective, but simply being there doesn’t give one infinite and absolutely correct knowledge of a situation.

Not being in a geographical location that is the topic of discussion does not automatically exclude those who have not been there (and coincidentally not agree with).

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Not being in a geographical location that is the topic of discussion does not automatically exclude those who have not been there (and coincidentally not agree with).

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Of course it doesn’t. But they should bring some actual facts to the discussion.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Consider this:

Observer A has access to the media and has heard some things about Place X and shares those things with a large group.

Among the group is Observer B, who has access to all the media Observer A does, but is actually in Place X and has been for a while. Observer B relates that Observer A’s perspective doesn’t exactly agree with the facts on the ground at Place X as directly observed by Observer B.

Assuming both Observer A and Observer B are honest, which do you suppose would likely be more reliable?

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:19 PM

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Facts have been brought to the discussion. You pointed out that some of these ghost cities are indeed not totally devoid of people. I pointed out the manner in which these cities are being slowly filled with inhabitants. Also mentioned was that these people aren’t moving into these cities of their own volition and that therefore this is probably an unsustainable model. That is, without working people paying to live in them, the State will have to go on heavily subsidizing these “ghost cities”-and that that is economically unfeasible in the long run.

So, you broke the “ghost city” myth to some extent and with the presentation of your facts caused some of us to investigate that more closely. Now we all have a more clear picture of what’s going on concerning this bit of Chinese society.

You seem to believe that over time that the cities will fill up with inhabitants and that (I’m guessing here) over time these people will build up local industries thereby removing the need for support from the central government?

I acknowledge that you may be right if that’s the case…but I’m not 100% convinced that is the case. The Chinese economy does seem to be shaky on some levels. Many Chinese are buying into precious metals and/or hoarding cash.

But getting back to the Democracy thing, some of the Chinese citizens interviewed said that they were forced to live in these cities-and that they weren’t happy about that-some said they were OK with it. Now whether that is “right” or “wrong” cannot be factually based, but can only be supported one way or another based upon one’s own beliefs.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 2:27 PM

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Any rational person would give at least some weight to someone’s first hand knowledge on a subject. But there is the “forest for the trees” issue. LOL

It’s like when the average Soviet citizen was thoroughly convinced that 99% of Americans lived in abject poverty. Few had actually been here to see for themselves. And when some Soviet dignitaries visited and were shown stores full of goods, they thought it was all a set up just for them. But to be an American back then and argue that there was no poverty would have been equally disingenuous.

Just because you never see (or notice?) poor people doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just because someone doesn’t know any Republicans doesn’t mean that Nixon can’t be elected. LOL

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Also mentioned was that these people aren’t moving into these cities of their own volition and that therefore this is probably an unsustainable model. That is, without working people paying to live in them, the State will have to go on heavily subsidizing these “ghost cities”-and that that is economically unfeasible in the long run.

Actually many, probably most of them are moving of their own volition. Here in Shanghai more than half of the people I work with come from other parts of China and did so voluntarily. Understand that being rural isn’t regarded positively in much of East Asian culture, even by rural people. In fact I’ve never met a person who was forced to come to Shanghai. Anecdotal of course.

You seem to believe that over time that the cities will fill up with inhabitants and that (I’m guessing here) over time these people will build up local industries thereby removing the need for support from the central government?

I don’t believe that they will. I see that most of them are.

I acknowledge that you may be right if that’s the case…but I’m not 100% convinced that is the case. The Chinese economy does seem to be shaky on some levels. Many Chinese are buying into precious metals and/or hoarding cash.

Of course the Chinese economy has some problems. But Chinese buying precious metals and hoarding cash is just what Chinese people have always done, not a sign that they anticipate a looming crash. They’re traditionally savers and investors.

But getting back to the Democracy thing, some of the Chinese citizens interviewed said that they were forced to live in these cities-and that they weren’t happy about that-some said they were OK with it. Now whether that is “right” or “wrong” cannot be factually based, but can only be supported one way or another based upon one’s own beliefs.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Some of them undoubtedly were forced to move, and I don’t agree with that.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Any rational person would give at least some weight to someone’s first hand knowledge on a subject. But there is the “forest for the trees” issue. LOL

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 2:35 PM

A fair point, but keep in mind

Among the group is Observer B, who has access to all the media Observer A does

That is to say, Observer B can see both the forest from above as Observer A does, but also the trees from ground level as Observer A does not :)

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 2:52 PM

There’s this guy who makes a living collecting and hauling recyclables. I don’t know if he was forced off his land, but I’m pretty sure he’s not originally from Shanghai.

There are these guys, the children of old family friends. They left rural Zhejiang to make a living in Shanghai. Now they own 3 prosperous restaurants and aren’t looking back.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

These two abandoned a little town somewhere in Fujian Province a few years ago to find a better life in the big city. They now own several convenience stores in the neighborhood and beyond. They had just opened their first one when I first met them.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Good points. Though I think your outlook is too rosy. But I’m coming from the mindset that major urban areas as well as industrialized society is on the skids. Wealth is becoming too concentrated (both at the hands of major corporations/banks as well as centralized governments) to maintain the system that once worked more efficiently due to greater capital flow and true free enterprise competition.

C’mon, they’re gambling to the tune of trillions with money that does exist and doesn’t exist. They dream up derivative scam after derivative scam. Getting to the point that few understand the game, and few are really sure as to who owns what.

Then there is the general worldwide erosion of social structures. The Socialists have been busy pushing this while the major financial players have been eroding modern economies from their end.

As for precious metals, saving is one thing. But few buy precious metals if they have faith in their currency.

But I suspect you believe that a centralized, planned economy is the key to success for a people? That the State offers stability and guidance whereas individual corporations that only see to themselves can’t offer that?

As I’ve pointed out above, history shows stand-alone Socialism to be a dismal failure. That’s why both the Russian and Chinese Communist parties have backtracked to include a Capitalist stage needed to provide a foundation for the Socialist stage (of history). Both of these societies went directly from Feudalism to Socialism, bypassing Capitalism. The party theorists pointed out this error. China seems to have picked up on this a couple of decades before Moscow.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 3:33 PM

But I suspect you believe that a centralized, planned economy is the key to success for a people? That the State offers stability and guidance whereas individual corporations that only see to themselves can’t offer that?

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 3:33 PM

No, I suspect there’s no universal model that fits all situations. I certainly don’t think a centralized, planned economy would work at all in the US.

On the other hand I don’t think a completely democratic government would work very well in China at this point in history.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 4:05 PM

As for precious metals, saving is one thing. But few buy precious metals if they have faith in their currency.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 1, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Missed this. The Chinese do. They just love gold, always have.

They also have a strong traditional fondness for the color red. Red and gold together is the best and most festive.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 4:18 PM

About a half an hour ago I was standing at the skewer stand outside of the local Family Mart when an average looking girl in black shorts walks by while typing on her phone…

“You’re from Shandong, right?” I ask the griller

“Yeah”

“Your girls up there must be prettier than that?” I ask while glancing in the girl’s direction

“About the same”

“Maybe she’s from Shandong”

He looks her way

“Could be”

And that’s why I’m so loved…

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 4:28 PM

People in HK don’t like mainlanders and refer to them as locusts, it isn’t just the government. Culture is way different. The mainlanders are unbelievably rude comparatively. I’ve experienced even 80 year old grandmas elbowing you in the back to get on elevators etc. The mid-grade hotels are filled with mainlanders. Never in my life have I seen such rude people. They also take dumps in the streets (and are not intoxicated–totally conscious).

HK will gradually be more and more like the mainland due to immigration, unfortunately. Quite analogous to the Mexico situation here (immigrants consuming resources and not assimilating).

Too bad for HK. Great place to visit. What a contrast with China and the surrounding areas for prosperity (even Macau) over the past century. The power of free markets is evident.

brogers on September 1, 2014 at 4:40 PM

People in HK don’t like mainlanders and refer to them as locusts, it isn’t just the government. Culture is way different. The mainlanders are unbelievably rude comparatively.

It’s the mainlanders that are rude?

I’ve experienced even 80 year old grandmas elbowing you in the back to get on elevators etc.

I wonder why that’s never happened to me once in all these years?

The mid-grade hotels are filled with mainlanders. Never in my life have I seen such rude people. They also take dumps in the streets (and are not intoxicated–totally conscious).

Strange that I’ve never seen that either. But I usually stay at high-end hotels in HK so may have missed this typical mainlander behavior there.

Too bad for HK. Great place to visit. What a contrast with China and the surrounding areas for prosperity (even Macau) over the past century. The power of free markets is evident.

brogers on September 1, 2014 at 4:40 PM

I suppose if you can tolerate Cantonese it’s not so bad.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM

I wonder why that’s never happened to me once in all these years?

Do you stand out of the way to let 80 year-old grandmas on the elevator?

AsianGirlInTights on September 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Do you stand out of the way to let 80 year-old grandmas on the elevator?

AsianGirlInTights on September 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Of course. I’m not a barbarian. I spent my young adult years in Japan. I’m practically civilized.

DarkCurrent on September 1, 2014 at 5:22 PM

I should clarify. It was all of them stampeding/elbowing/pushing to get on an elevator. That the elderly participated as well was, I thought, the oddest (I would expect from teens/children). Same behavior at Ocean Park from the mainlanders in any type of a queue. I had a middle age woman elbowing me in the back when there were just three of us getting on the elevator (so it was not as though she was jostling for a spot even).

Hotels I had stayed at had some tour groups, but my family who live in HK confirm it is the norm.

Regarding relieving themselves:

http://badcanto.wordpress.com/spot-the-mainlander

Having visited Taiwan as well, it is strange how different the mainlanders are (on average) from their HK and Taiwanese counterparts who are the same people (also, compare the prosperity). Seems that Mao destroyed more than the Chinese economy. I met nice mainlanders in school though (they were PhD students).

Also, regarding cantonese, I find mandarin to be more unpleasant due to what seems to me to be more high-pitched stuff by the females. Oddly, it isn’t as annoying when the Taiwanese were speaking it (mainlanders are louder??). Not that I can speak/understand canto well (limited vocab and horrible gwei lo accent–wrong tone most of the time).

What do you find so bad about canto (the constant use of particles at the end of every statement, maybe???)?

brogers on September 1, 2014 at 6:59 PM

What do you find so bad about canto (the constant use of particles at the end of every statement, maybe???)?

brogers on September 1, 2014 at 6:59 PM

I just find it very unpleasant to the ear. I much prefer Putonghua or Wu.

DarkCurrent on September 2, 2014 at 3:08 AM

Looking into this a little, it seems that under the current process the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is selected by the Election Committee of Hong Kong without a popular vote.

Under the new process, candidates approved by the Nominating Committee will run against each other in a public election.

DarkCurrent on September 2, 2014 at 5:59 AM

The president will be “apoplectic” when he hears about this China problem.

His strategy seems to be to wait for all possible crises to emerge, then come up with a speech to address them all together.

Maybe he’s saving it for the next “State of the Union” which will be interesting: a half-alienated supreme court and a room of benighted congressmen and other total strangers to whom he will be announcing his sundry executive orders.

virgo on September 2, 2014 at 11:11 AM

DarkCurrent on September 2, 2014 at 5:59 AM

Which is to say, the new process could be considered marginally more democratic than the current process.

A shame Noah didn’t do a little research.

DarkCurrent on September 2, 2014 at 1:05 PM