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Brittney Stewart

Special Education Aide, education

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When will China be free?

What will it take for China to end its human rights abuses? With the burgeoning youth of China becoming acutely aware of the oppressive nature of their government, how long do you think it will take them to change this, or convince the goverment to change? Will it be a revolution like Tunisia or Libya, if so would the U.S. aid the rebels? Will it happen in the next decade or continue to bubble beneath the surface?

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    Oct 24 2011: What makes you think China is not "free?"

    Because it is not like, say, America?

    What makes you think America is "free?"

    There are things you are not allowed to do in America; everyone knows what they are (more or less) and, as long as you do not do "those things," you are free to do whatever you want.

    There are things you are not allowed to do in China; everyone knows what they are (more or less) and, as long as you do not do "those things," you are free to do whatever you want.

    Guess which country has the most restrictions?

    Guess which country provides the greatest personal freedom to do whatever you want?

    I grew up in Canada, have lived in America, Kenya, and now live in China. When I moved here, three years ago, my perception of China was probably similar to the one you have now.

    To help with my visa application, I taught English for about eight months. One of the classes was called "English Corner." It was an open class, anyone could come and the format was group discussion. My role was to provide a topic and monitor the discussion.

    We talked about everything from democracy, and dating, to torture, and corruption. Which is not the point of me telling the tale. The point of the telling is, during one discussion, one of the students said of China (in response to a topic I have forgotten) "Why not, it's a free country."

    My emotional reaction to that statement was very telling. I didn't say anything (there was nothing to say) but I felt like a basic belief I held - one I didn't even know I had internalized - had just been revealed.

    China is just as "free" as any country in the world, including America. It's just that the restrictions the two countries (for example) place on their citizens are different. How they are determined is different. How they are enforced is different. You grew up in America (probably) so you feel "free" in your culture (unless you break a rule ... then you will go to jail.)

    People in China feel the same way about China.
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      Oct 24 2011: for example this debate is going on an american server, which if becomes a hard critic of china, might get banned there. this is not possible the other way.
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        Oct 24 2011: QUOTE: "...this is not possible the other way."

        Wanna bet?

        All you have to do is figure out what your government doesn't want you to say, say it, and see what happens.*

        Give it a shot.

        And the point will be moot soon anyway ... as the internet will be "unblockable."

        When do you think China will be free (assuming you think it's not?)

        ---------
        * The "American Government**" attempted to shut down a small, local CANADIAN newspaper because it printed negative articles about the American President.

        -------
        ** To be fair, it was actually lawyers representing the government that tried to strong-arm the paper. Maybe the government didn't know about it. (Yeah, right.)
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          Oct 24 2011: yeah, we can bet. disclaimer:

          i'm not saying the US government does not try to silence critics. the difference is not the goal of the powers that be. the difference is the current state of the country, the mindset of its citizens, the legal system, and the traditions.

          i'm also not talking about a (not so?) distant future. the US is going to the wrong direction with the patriot act and with the war on terror brainwashing. china is going to the right direction. but it still needs some doing to reverse the current situation. those, who seek freedom, the US is still a much better destination than china.
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        Oct 24 2011: Okay. What's the bet? (A Guinness?)

        Here's the challenge: You decide what YOUR government will not allow you to say, and then say it openly and publicly; and attempt to recruit others to your "point of view."

        [That it is not really your point of view is incidental - the intention is to find out what happens if you say something YOUR government does not want you to say.]

        Oh, and if they intimidate, arrest or kill you - or block your site - you lose, and you owe me a Guinness! If they don't intimidate, arrest, or kill you - or block your site - I owe you a Guinness.

        QUOTE: "...those, who seek freedom, the US is still a much better destination than china."

        Freedom to do what?

        Would you like the freedom to, say, engage in profitable business? Then I recommend China (at the moment.)

        Would you like the freedom to engage in some revolutionary activity? Then I don't think I can recommend any place. Western democracies give "lip service" to freedom but just try to overthrow the government and see how far you get.
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          Oct 24 2011: so the essence of your point is the following

          my government does not allow me to steal some sensitive information about our politicians or government "business", and publish it (that's the only thing i have to fear doing). the repercussions are: confiscation of property, fine, harassment, threats, character killing.

          chinese government does not allow me to criticize tibetan invasion and occupation. repercussions: imprisonment.

          and these two things are somehow equal. it indicates that there is no difference between china and my country (which happens to be hungary). because they both control what can i say.

          i hope everyone else sees the essential difference between these. but i hope more and more people see that yes, what my government does is also immoral, though in a much less degree.
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        Oct 24 2011: No, that is not the essence of my argument. The essence of my argument is, that if you do what your government says you should not do, they will stop you.

        What it is they will stop you from doing is determined by each respective government. How they reach their decision is, I am sure, reasonable to them. Whether you agree or disagree with their choices and how they make them, is not particularly relevant.

        And, like it our not, you don't get a vote in how other countries choose to govern themselves.

        We can complain about it, highlight the errors, criticize, and point fingers all we want but it is not going to help. (Has it helped so far?)

        Cooperation helps. Criticism, particularly uninvited criticism, doesn't have such a good track record.

        QUOTE: "i hope more and more people see that yes, what my government does is also immoral, though in a much less degree."

        It is only "immoral" to you because it does not conform to your moral standards. It obviously does conform to other people's (or it would not be happening.)

        And I agree with you, it is a matter of degree. And, as far as I can tell, every government in every country (county, state, province, region, city, and town) engages in the same behaviour - the difference being only, as you say, a matter of degree.

        I am unaware of any functioning anarchist enclaves.

        I don't think it's going to change any time soon.
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          Oct 24 2011: yes it is the essence, as you repeated it yet again.

          here it is

          "What it is they will stop you from doing is determined by each respective government. How they reach their decision is, I am sure, reasonable to them. Whether you agree or disagree with their choices and how they make them, is not particularly relevant."

          either it is a tautology, which does not add to the conversation, but rather serves the purpose of a red herring, or it means that what each government do, does not matter. only the fact that they do ban some activities matters.

          if you were just dropping in tautologies, i'm sorry, it was my mistake to look for some actual meaning.

          if you meant what it looks like, then you just did what i accused you of doing: this is extreme relativism, and i don't subscribe to that. for me, the essential question is what governments allow and what they disallow. and that's what makes china much less free than the united states or hungary.

          with similar reasoning, we could argue that a bank robber and a torrent user are both criminals, and it is only a matter of degree. technically it is true, but it is very meaningless and consequenceless.

          whether it will change anytime soon or not, has no bearing on the fact. if a bad thing is not about to improve, it does not make it neither good nor acceptable.
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        Oct 24 2011: Krisztián,

        Based on this and other conversations we have had, you seem to have a hard time following a simple idea without getting ineffectually confrontational.

        My point IS a simple one, you even seem to share it yourself, and yet all of a sudden for reasons that seem to make sense to you, it's a red herring, a tautology, or whatever you feel like calling it at the time.

        My point is: Every government restricts their citizens (you have agreed) the nature of the restrictions is determined by the government and the culture within which it operates (I believe you even agreed to that) once we have established that, we have established all governments share the same quality, and the difference it a matter of degree (you have agreed.)

        That's it.

        Could we operate our governments more effectively? Sure.

        All of them.

        Do you get to decide how China will run its government?

        You can ask them.

        Does your opinion matter?

        To you, it does.


        ----
        Is there any part of that that you disagree with?
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          Oct 24 2011: yeah, and i've replied to that already. the point in this conversation is exactly the "how" part. how governments restrict their citizens. but you can continue to muddy the waters if it pleases you. goto 10.
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        Oct 25 2011: QUOTE: " the point in this conversation is exactly the "how" part."

        Actually, that is not the point of this conversation; that is a point that is of interest to you. And it's a valid point.

        But the point of this conversation is to determine, "When will China be free?"

        My assertion is it is free. Or as "free" as any other country.

        Your assertion is, it is not free.

        We disagree.

        -------------

        I'm going to "disengage" from our little discussion as you have entered that enigmatic phase of your conversation were you say things that require clarification but you (typically) refuse to offer it when it is asked for.

        For example, in response to about five separate points, you have said "yeah, and i've replied to that already." What you have "replied to" already - is a bit of a mystery.

        As you say, it muddies the water.

        Let me know if I owe you a Guinness.
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          Oct 25 2011: this conversation is getting funny :)

          me: "my government [...] chinese government [...] and these two things are somehow equal."

          you: "No, that is not the essence of my argument."

          later

          you: "My assertion is it is free. Or as "free" as any other country."

          hm. are you sure you are clear on your own opinion?
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        Oct 25 2011: QUOTE: "this conversation is getting funny :)"

        Hi Krisztián,

        That's one of your most endearing traits ... you are easily amused.

        You really do have a hard time following a simple point. It's fascinating ... I recall following you for about thirty posts once until the topic author got irritated; it was an intriguing exercise.

        I have no intention of doing that again, as fun as it was. So unless you have something meaningful to say I will not be responding to any more of your posts in this conversation.

        But thanks for the exchange it has been fun as usual.

        Enjoy the rest of the conversation.
    • Oct 26 2011: I think we need to look at human rights as defined by UN and see where China stands. From that point of view China does not seem to have much freedom esp. freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom to allow fair elections.

      Whether certain population, due to lack of knowledge or propaganda, believe that they have freedom does not make China free.

      I lived in socialist country for over 20 years and I think China follows similar principles.
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        Oct 26 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        So what you are saying is we should evaluate China using values established by people other than the Chinese? Additionally, if they, the Chinese, embrace different values, and choose to implement them in a manner that does not conform to externally established values, they are somehow deluded?

        Is that about right?

        Are you saying, that if the majority of Chinese support their system and find it functional and useful, they must be mistaken?

        And, while that MIGHT be happening in China, it is NOT happening in "The West?"

        [In my personal experience, the most inculcated nation I have ever been in is NOT China ... it is, in fact, a Western country. The dogmatic, almost mindless, adherence to ideals - and poorly understood ideals, at that - is palpable.]

        Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that can be improved here but I find it intriguing, and a little amusing, that people feel completely free to evaluate an ancient, and massively successful culture on terms that have been crafted by people from a different, newer, and arguably, less successful culture.

        "China" (for the most part) has the good sense to keep it's criticism of other cultures to itself. If you dig a little bit deeper, you will find that "China" has as many issues with, say, America, as America has with China. (In many ways, they view "The West" as immature.) However, they know that what "The West" has implemented, makes sense to "The West" and do not feel a need to interfere.

        The Chinese also do something very well: They learn from other cultures.

        I think The West is also learning from China and, I expect, at some point, there will be a synthesis of sorts.

        It is already happening.
        • Oct 26 2011: Hi Thomas,

          "So what you are saying is we should evaluate China using values established by people other than the Chinese? "

          No. What I am saying is that all people in the world, regardless of culture or location, share basic needs. These needs include freedom of expression, freedom of self determination (choice) etc. These are basic needs that we all have.

          It is common misconception that only people in "the West" wants these basic, universal rights. That is not accurate. Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed by countries from America, Europe, Africa and Asia, including Republic of China:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights


          "Are you saying, that if the majority of Chinese support their system and find it functional and useful, they must be mistaken?"

          Given Chinese people do not have many options and freedom to express their opinions how can we then make conclusion that they support their system? Look at people in Hong Kong and how they defend their freedom from the system that is implemented in mainland China. I think that shows that Chinese do prefer freedom, if given to them, over some ideals.

          Also look at the Chinese recent history where various Chinese communist leaders like Mao used masses for their own purpose:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution
          "The movement brought chaos, as social norms largely evaporated and the previously established political institutions disintegrated at all levels of government."

          Is it fair for Chinese people to pay for mistakes of their leaders and hope for the best? Without decades of communist government ruling China would not need to catch up with developed world over the past decade or so.

          United States have many problems (and who doesn't?), however the degree of it is different. I have concerns about recent trends in war on terror and financial system, however because of freedom, people have the power to fix it. cheers
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        Oct 26 2011: Zdenek,

        This is not personal. Nor is it directed at you specifically but ...

        I really get tired of idealism. It is such sanctimonious claptrap.

        I have lived in every part of the world and this "idealism" that seems to be so important to so many of us is just a collection of ideas we think are "meaningful."

        What is REALLY happening, if you would care to take a look is people are simply living their lives, regardless of the idealism that is so dear to us. It doesn't matter if it's the slums in Nairobi or the heart of Shanghai or New York ... people simply live their lives.

        If it is important to you that the Chinese access blocked websites, fine, make that something you work to remedy but trust me, the Chinese don't really care what you think, what you do, or whether they can access the sites you would like them too or not. And if and when they do, they will change it.

        As is typical, you assume you understand China. I do not think you do. Nor do I think you understand the Chinese.

        For one thing, China does not need to "catch up" because of decades of communist rule, they need to catch up because of, amongst other things, "One Hundred Years of Humiliation" - Japanese and Western imperialism - which included, the British selling opium to the Chinese so that they could have their afternoon tea, and various countries, including America, essentially colonizing China and exploiting it's natural resources. And yes, Mao set the country back decades. Deng Xiaoping, on the other hand, catapulted China forward so that, in 30 years, it has become the second largest economy on the planet and will soon be the first.

        It is interesting that the Chinese themselves see Mao as an anomaly. Their view of themselves is millennia long both to the past and to the future. To them, Mao was a "blip" of minor historical importance which is not to say they are not mindful of his failings or his accomplishments (he was instrumental in ending imperialism).

        If you want to help, learn.
        • Oct 26 2011: Thomas,


          "As is typical, you assume you understand China. I do not think you do. Nor do I think you understand the Chinese."

          These are your assumption that are not correct. While I haven't travel to China, I have many Chinese friends and I have even wife from Asia so I think I do understand quite a bit about Chinese and their culture. One does not need to travel to the Moon to have a good knowledge about it.

          "I really get tired of idealism. It is such sanctimonious claptrap.

          ...people are simply living their lives, regardless of the idealism"

          This is really sad to hear that. I see quite the opposite and it is not my feeling but a fact that:

          - the whole Eastern block that had socialism collapsed because people wanted political and economical feedom

          - Lybia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain clearly show that people do value freedom

          - Hong Kong and massive protests in mainland China that were suppressed by Chinese military also show fairly large support, at least between educated, for freedom:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

          "If you want to help, learn."
          Yes I think learning and education is fundamental necessity for progress of the society and I provided some relevant links that support my claims.


          Now I do think Chinese culture and history is unique and it has some great aspects. I think if Chinese people become free they will have political spectrum similar to one in Canada with free healthcare, good social net and even free education. They will become a great example to others. cheers
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        Oct 26 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        It is true, one does not need to go to the moon to understand ABOUT the moon. Seeing a moon rock would also add to one's understanding; but we could say that the first person in history who might be able to truly say he understands the moon (not about the moon) is Neil Armstrong.

        It may be sad for you to hear I get tired of idealism but it's not really sad at all. Idealism, of every kind, is a simplification: We create an idea, say capitalism or socialism, and we "perfect it" in our minds. Now, these perfected images are pristine in their purity.

        I have had people tell me capitalism is the perfect system it is only our application of it that is flawed. And I have had people tell me the same thing about communism, Islam, Christianity, socialism, and basically every philosophy, religion, and political system you would care to mention.

        They are all "perfect" if only we were to apply them "properly" (which usually means: SOMEONE ELSE has to do them the way WE think they should be done.)

        And of course, everyone is right: if we all did capitalism "perfectly" it would work; if we all did Islam "perfectly" it would work; if we all did communism "perfectly" it would work; and so on.

        You can see the problem right away, can't you?

        Except when it comes to the system you think "will work" - if we only all did it "perfectly" - THAT one is different. That one really will work, if we only did it right.

        Idealism is like looking at the world through a narrow hole, we only see a part of it.

        For example, you see China as not "free" - and if 1.3 Billion Chinese were to tell you they do not agree with you (and I suspect they would) you would (probably) assume they simply do not know what "freedom" is and you do.

        As I say, there is a lot of room for improvement here. And the improvements are coming. But I think you are wrong when you say, "They will become a great example to others."

        I think they are already a great example and they will become greater. cheers
        • Oct 26 2011: Hi Thomas,

          Personally I don't subscribe to any ideology but rather I look at the basic human rights and needs and see how in practice these needs are satisfied by various form of governments and markets (same with religion for that matter).

          I think democracy and capitalism is far from perfect but it is the best system that works (even thou it sometimes needs an adjustment). The actual implementation of these system differ to some degree between countries and how well democracy works also depends on how involved its people are in politics and local/national government organizations. Theoretically you can vote a dictator to be in charge in a democratic country. I think it depends on how well educated and motivated people actually are.

          I think I presented several concrete examples of how people everywhere in the world, including in China (Tiananmen Square protests, Hong Kong) do want freedom, whether it is a majority or substantial minority should not matter. I acknowledge that China has large number of people in rural areas that do not probably care about all this unless they know the implications and are able to participate in how their society is run.

          What is unfortunate and one of the reasons why I think China is not currently a great example to the world is the impact China has in security council. So not only Chinese communist party limits freedom of its citizens, they also prevent others get their freedom. A good example is how China votes against stronger measures that are aim at dictatorship in Syria.

          Once China becomes free in sense that I described then I think they have so much to offer to the world. Economic growth by itself, in my eyes, does not make any country great.

          Cheers
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        Oct 26 2011: Hi Zdenek

        "Basic human rights," however it is you define them, are an ideology.

        I mentioned that China has "issues" with "The West" - one is that "basic human rights" are not being honoured in The West.

        How can this be?

        It is because "The West," represented by you, for example, and your personal ideology defines "basic human rights" one way; and China, represented by Wang Xiaobin, for example, and his personal ideology, define personal freedom a different way.

        QUOTE: "I think I presented several concrete examples of how people everywhere in the world, including in China (Tiananmen Square protests, Hong Kong) do want freedom, whether it is a majority or substantial minority should not matter."

        Yes of course you have pointed out that which supports your point of view, why would you do otherwise?

        I have also pointed out that the majority of Chinese would not agree with you. That you choose to assume your definition of "freedom" supersedes theirs, and is affirmed by a minority of Chinese who do agree with you is quite typical of those of us who champion a particular ideology.

        I get it, you think China is not free; and by the ideology you espouse, you cannot see it any other way (this is another reason I am not a fan of ideology.)

        I do not share your opinion. One point three billion Chinese do not share your opinion and I don't think any of us mind THAT much that you hold it.

        And again, that does not mean I do not support your call for greater access to the internet, for example. I actually do.

        However, I am not going to judge an entire culture based on one practice (or ten) I am not a fan of. I would not do that with America and it's atrocities (torture, killing activists and so on) why would I do it with China?

        I choose to look at China as it is, not through some narrow hole defined by a personal, or collective, ideology.
        • Oct 27 2011: Hi Thomas,

          "It is because "The West," represented by you, for example, and your personal ideology defines "basic human rights" one way; and China, represented by Wang Xiaobin, for example, and his personal ideology, define personal freedom a different way."

          Please read the United Nations bill on Human Rights. It is NOT the West as it includes many countries from Africa, South America and even Asia including Republic of China. If you do not consider this to be a concrete fact against your notion of the "The West" then I have nothing more to say. "The West" might be one of the first to have the closest implementation of these basic ethical principles but people in Libya, Iran, Hong Kong, even China have same universal needs.

          "I have also pointed out that the majority of Chinese would not agree with you."

          I have provided concrete evidence but you only make claims. Can you give me links to evidence that supports your claims? Will you ignore tens of millions of Chinese people, including ones in Hong Kong, mainland and Taiwan (which China claims ownership of) and their need for freedom as defined in UN chart? Or will you think a a few individuals in Chinese leadership can determine the future of millions or billions in China, Taiwan, Tibet and elsewhere? Who gave them the right and ability to have say on what people are allow to do and what they are not?


          I think if you don't see concrete facts that I presented here with links to articles in Wikipedia then we can agree to disagree.

          Best luck to your endavour in China. I hope to visit the country one day as well. cheers
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        Oct 27 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        I do not check links provided in online conversations. I am sure your links support your point of view. And, if you are interested in "concrete evidence" that supports my point of view, it is not hard to find. (I do not think it necessary to provide links as I am relating my own personal point of view, which is supported by my own experience and observation. It does not actually need external verification. I do not expect you to "believe it" or "disbelieve it." You can understand, not understand, agree, or disagree. That's good enough for me. This is, after all, a conversation.)

        However, if you like, I could direct you to "concrete evidence" that the world's most corrupt, irresponsible and deadly nation is .... take your pick: America, China, Nigeria, Hungary, etc.

        You see, this is my problem with idealism: once we settle on one "worldview," we simply see the world in terms of a simplified set of values. It is, of course, a much easier way of dealing with an amazingly complex situation: we look at what we see; we stop thinking; and we measure what we see against a brilliantly conceived set of "universal" truths. Things "fit" or they "don't."

        If they fit, they are good. If they don't, they are bad. Easy.

        It actually is very practical. And I have no objection if you choose to see the world in those terms.

        I do not wish to do the same.

        And again, I am not saying I do not, for example, support your goal of open access to the internet. I do.

        I am saying, I do not wish to apply a value system, no matter how brilliant it is, to a group of people (or an individual) who don't (or doesn't) want to embrace it themselves.

        That you feel comfortable do so is fine. I disagree with the practice and your conclusions based on it.

        If you want to campaign for you basic human rights (however you conceive them) I support you.

        I do not support you in your assumptions that people who choose different values are any more "right" or "wrong" than you are.
        • Oct 27 2011: Hi Thomas,

          "However , if you like, I could direct you to "concrete evidence" that the world's most corrupt, irresponsible and deadly nation is .... take your pick: America,..."

          I think this conversation is not about what certain American presidents or individuals did but rather this is about whether China has freedom or not. American government created many problems in the world esp. with invasion of Iraq but that is not directly related to the topic of this discussion.

          " I am relating my own personal point of view, which is supported by my own experience and observation. It does not actually need external verification."

          I use my own experience but mostly I depend on objective rather than subjective data. I learn from verified historical records, current knowledge from independent resources before I make claims. I think personal experience can go only so far.

          "I do not support you in your assumptions that people who choose different values are any more "right" or "wrong" than you are."

          Did most people in China chose values or were those values impose on them by communist party that took over China by force? As long as people do not have choice then they cannot "choose" any values can they? Did people in Hong Kong choose socialism or did they choose political and other freedoms?

          I think we are going in circles here =)

          Cheers
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        Oct 27 2011: QUOTE: "I think this conversation is not about what certain American presidents or individuals did but rather this is about whether China has freedom or not."

        Yes, that is what this conversation is about - whether China has freedom or not. And we have established you think China is not free (and you have the data to prove it.)

        Give me a minute ... I'll conduct an informal survey here in the office and see what an average group of Chinese people say ... I'm back.

        One hundred percent gave an emphatic "Yes, China is free!" [Now, they are laughing about the question.]

        See, again, you demonstrate a lack of understanding regarding China: You assume their values are "communist" and were "forced" upon them. They are not and they were not. And the communists did not take over China by force: They expelled the imperialist interlopers "by force." That's not quite the same thing, is it? And ....

        Chinese "values" predate communism by more than 2000 years. The Chinese view communism as a minor "experiment" (and one that did not work out all that well.) Now, they are trying something else (market reforms) both have been integrated into a preexisting Chinese framework. That is one of the great strengths of China - their core is solid and they try "new things" to see how they work.

        By the way, if your argument is that communism was thrust upon the people "by force" - which is not necessarily an accurate assessment (again, learning might be a good thing) - we could use the same argument that American (or the French) values were imposed on those people by force.

        It's not a very compelling argument, is it? And, as it happens, it is spurious.

        ----------
        • Oct 28 2011: Hi Thomas,

          " I'll conduct an informal survey here in the office and see what an average group of Chinese people say"

          It is good to see you take this seriously. Unfortunately one big question remains: how can you ask people who are not allowed to express their opinion to answer your survey honestly? As I said I lived in socialism for 25 years so I know people are scared to say what they think in public.

          I agree with you that substantial number of people will say yes, China has freedom. Many truly consider that to be true. Others are scared. Many do not understand the question and many say no. However we don't discuss numbers but whether China is free or not?

          A few times you seem to suggest that human rights is an ideology. I think we can agree that humans (and animals) have basic physical needs: to eat, to sleep, to breath. They also have basic psychological needs: live in groups, ability to express themselves (i.e. freedom of speech) and ability to control their lives. Now do you consider these ideologies or basic needs that every human being has?

          "The Chinese view communism as a minor "experiment" (and one that did not work out all that well.) Now, they are trying something else (market reforms) both have been integrated into a preexisting Chinese framework. That is one of the great strengths of China - their core is solid and they try "new things" to see how they work."

          Can you please explain who is "they" ? Are you referring to General Secretary or Politburo? Or did all people voted or had say in how the country will be run?

          "By the way, if your argument is that communism was thrust upon the people "by force" - which is not necessarily an accurate assessment (again, learning might be a good thing) - we could use the same argument that American (or the French) values were imposed on those people by force."

          Can you explain how communist party become ruler of China? Did they win election? In America, elected representatives arrived at US constitution.
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        Oct 27 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        QUOTE: "Best luck to your endavour in China. I hope to visit the country one day as well. cheers"

        Thanks. Things are going well. It is definitely a good place to be doing business right now. We just (yesterday!) secured distribution rights for an American made industrial product with huge market potential.

        Let me know when you want to come and I'll see if I can arrange some adventures for you. Give me a bit of notice and, if I can make some time, I'll give you a tour myself.

        It is a very cool place. Very different but cool!

        Cheers.
        • Oct 28 2011: Hi Thomas,

          It sounds exciting and I wish you luck. Thank you for your invitation.

          I definitely see your excitement about China, its growth and opportunities.

          I think if we were talking about US we would agree on many more things because I am concerned about some of the anti-democratic and anti-socialist trends in the US.

          I believe and support many great things that Republic of China (and other socialist oriented countries including Canada) did. I think it is the right of every individual to receive free education, healthcare and same opportunities. It is also good if China focuses on long term objectives that benefit most people.

          Cheers.
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        Oct 28 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        QUOTE: "As I said I lived in socialism for 25 years so I know people are scared to say what they think in public."

        When I arrived, in China three years ago, I expected it to be how I imagined "a socialist" country to be. My views were formed by people recounting tales of oppression (that really did happen.)

        However, just as your country has, no doubt, changed, so too has China. And I am sure my views were amplified by hearing only "one side" of the story.

        And the reality is, China is not how I expected it to be.

        That is not to say we cannot compare China to the West, draw meaningful conclusions, and make improvements. We can. In fact China is doing that constantly. That's why they are the "rising star" on the planet.

        QUOTE: However we ... discuss ... whether China is free or not?

        Yes, we are. But whose definition of freedom shall we use?

        Yours?

        The UN's?

        China's?

        That the Chinese see themselves as free seems to "bother" people who assume they are are not.

        The Chinese are not afraid to express themselves. There may be some who are. But no one I have met is, in the least, afraid to discuss anything - Taiwan, Censorship, politics in general, corruption, etc.

        I suppose people who would like to overthrow the existing system might be afraid to talk openly but that is true anywhere.

        QUOTE: "... you seem to suggest that human rights is an ideology."

        It comes down to a definition of the word "rights." And is more than can be attempted in 2000 characters.

        QUOTE: "Can you please explain who is "they" ?"

        "They" are the Chinese people; using institutions set up for the purpose of governance. The system is MUCH more democratic than you might expect. Two recent books that might help you understand are:

        - "China's Megatrends" by John and Dorris Naisbitt, and;
        - "When China Rules the World" by Martin Jacques.

        QUOTE: Can you explain how communist party become ruler of China?

        Revolution. They expelled the "imperialists."

        Just like America did.
        • Oct 29 2011: Hi Thomas,

          I will have a look at the two books you mentioned. However the book with title "When China Rules the World" makes me feel the author has already bias and makes me ask why should one nation rule the world? Is that China's goal? (I don't think it is)

          I suggest that you read some books on revolutions because I see that all socialist countries had revolution lead by people that then became dictators. You can see that esp. in Cuba, North Korea but also to some degree in China. Again no free elections.

          Cheers
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        Oct 29 2011: Zdenek,

        Martin Jaques also has done a TED talk about China:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_jacques_understanding_the_rise_of_china.html

        Jaques is an author, and he has some interesting ideas, but he also wants to sell books (as does his publisher.) I suspect that has something to do with the title. And I agree, China has not demonstrated an inclination to "rule the world."

        You are right, China does not elect it's leaders but this is not "a communist" or a "revolutionary" thing; it is a "Chinese thing" (that has been modified in modern times.)

        China will very likely never be a western-style democracy, however, that does not mean it is not democratic.

        Read the books and we'll talk some more.

        I think you will find them interesting.
        • Nov 2 2011: Hi Thomas,

          I keep coming across articles like this so I thought I will share it with you:

          http://www.economist.com/node/21534838

          It is sad to see such a state of affairs. Perhaps you consider this as a necessary price to pay for economical "revolution" but I don't consider it fair to those people.

          Cheers
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        Nov 2 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        Yes, thanks for the link. I am aware of the situation. Do you think this is fundamentally different than, say, the American auto industry being unable to pay their workers (and having to be bailed out by the government?)

        That is what will undoubtedly happen here too. The government will "bail them out."

        I think my point is that whatever we "see" in one system, we can also see in any other system if we care to look.

        I do not think any system is exemplary.
        • Nov 2 2011: Hi Thomas,

          When American auto industry or any other business sector is unable to pay their workers, the workers are laid off and receive employment insurance. The article notes that large number of workers were not paid for months. Yes both Chinese and US government can provide bailout or not but the unfortunate fact that Chinese works have less protection than US counterparts is surprising.

          Both systems are different in many aspects so I would expect to see things in one system and not in the other? =)

          "You are right, China does not elect it's leaders but this is not "a communist" or a "revolutionary" thing; it is a "Chinese thing" (that has been modified in modern times.)"

          I don't agree. Obviously many Chinese people do want democracy and democracy allows for Chinese culture and values to take place as well through e.g. strong social programs. Chinese people are not "made' for a particular ideology but rather should have choice in which one they want to embrace rather then get one from a group of communists that believe their ideology is the only one good for Chinese people?

          cheers.
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        Nov 2 2011: Hi Zdenek,

        Have you noticed that, no matter what you "see," you perceive it in a particular way?

        Your assumptions are colouring the way you interpret every story, every situation, and circumstance to affirm what it is you already believe to be true.

        Let me be blunt: You do not know very much about China AND you do not know China.

        That does not mean that what you are "seeing" is not actually happening; it is. What it means is you are using what you see to affirm a preconceived notion you have about China and your preconceived notion is less than complete.

        There are one-point-three billion people in China. China is emerging from a period of stagnation that was partially imposed upon them by imperialists and partially self-determined by spectacularly bad policy choices (primarily made by Mao Zedong.)

        The population is in flux; at the time of writing about 51% are urban and 49% rural.

        In 30 years, the country has become the second largest economy in the world and will soon be the largest.

        China is "bailing out" many Western economies that are faltering. They have orchestrated the single largest transition from poverty to wealth in human history. They have the best and the largest road system in the world. They have the largest and most modern cities in the world.

        They are extremely democratic in how they make their decisions. They are integrating every institution that will enable them to be be more effective (including a more robust "rule of law," "private property" and so on.)

        They do not have a "Western-style" democracy. And the transition is not being made without certain "problems."

        What do you see?

        You see the problems and the fact that they are not a Western-style democracy.

        Until you see "it all" you will not have much to offer that might be useful or valid.

        There will ALWAYS be problems - in China and in "The West" - and China will likely NEVER be a Western-style democracy. You can rail against this or you can accept it and learn something new.
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      Oct 27 2011: I don't expect all countries to be as perfect as America...(joking)

      My bone to pick with China is that to me, from my standpoint is not free.

      I can google Tiananmen Square and get answers.
      Freedom of speech is one of the most near and dear to my heart ideas man could espouse.

      Total lack of human rights. Leaving baby girls out to suffer exposure does not constitute a free nation, it imposes a restraint on people's consciences and morals.

      That's unacceptable to me.
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        Oct 27 2011: Hi Brittney,

        Of course you are quite right to feel strongly about such things. How do you feel about American kids going to bed hungry, starving to death, or being murdered by their parents? How about American babies being born addicted to narcotics; Kent State; "Seattle;" America torturing prisoners, America blocking access to "subversive" websites, and so on?

        You see, it's quite easy to point fingers. You (probably) feel somewhat offended by me pointing out these things that ARE transpiring in a country that you "hold dear." You probably feel quite "free" and like you are a citizen of a noble and just country (that makes some mistakes ... Hey, who doesn't?)

        Well, that's pretty much how the Chinese feel about themselves. And they do get a bit tired of the West's incessant whining.

        It is also how young people here feel when you point fingers at the country in which they feel free and of which they are justifiably proud to be a part of.

        You know the old saying, "People in glass houses ...."

        How about this: You work on America (it definitely needs some work) - you learn a little more about China (and it definitely needs some work too) - and when you get America all fixed up, if you still have the energy, you can come over here to China and help out. You would be most welcome.
      • Nov 1 2011: Brittney, you are picking incidences and generalizing it to the whole culture. "Total lack of human rights" is a large overstatement. Just think about all the cruelty and wierd stuff you hear about in the news in the US. How would you feel if someone generalize those incidents and say that America is not free just because some group of people decided to "leave girls out to exposure"? Tiannamen square? During the Vietnam War there were university student protests all over the country and government used violent forces against peaceful protesting. When is America free? Why don't we just not have government at all? Instead of dwelling on the high and noble theoretical notion of "free," why don't we do something substantial to increase true wellbeing and happiness in other cultures by aiding them to develop in their own direction? Instead of being condescending and judgmental, please understand, respect, and accept cultural and historical differences of another country and culture. Every country deserve a chance to grow as their own and there is no right prototype society for all countries.

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