Diametrically opposite figures in the top 100 public intellectuals

Coming Anarchy questioned my earlier post on China's "peaceful development", after Japan sent out its fighter jet 30 times in 7 months into the disputed water. Maybe we have another indicator here.

These are their ways of dealing with the dispute. I believe they will maintain restrained, and the little hip-cup should not be over-read. The only question is, why not use UN arbitration?

  • China is uncomfortable of putting this in the hand of Western lawyers, arbitrating the East Sea will also mean resolving the Diaoyu dispute, of which China is not very sure who will win and it prefers to shelf it
  • Japan knows it will most likely lose based on the continental shelf article for seabed (scroll down), because the Okinawa Trough is too deep and China has a valid point

Now Foreign Affair and The Prospect has selected their Top 100 public intellectuals, of which 5 are Chinese and 2 Japanese. The architect of "peaceful development', Zheng Bijian is on the list.

The political figures are diametrically opposite in these 2 countries:

  • Wang Jishi ('China should search for stability with US'; top picture) and Zheng Bijian ('Peaceful Development', second picture); both pacifists
  • Shintaro Ishihara (Tokyo Governor, the youngest winner (at 23) of the Japan's Booker/Pulitzer equivalent: Akutagawa Prize, 3rd picture), a racist, sexist hawk that would have made Abe or A--so in Koizumi's new cabinet saints, among his resume
    • he flamed the French
    • persecuted school teachers who refused to go hawkish
    • shouted "shoot the nigger"
    • For his "Little Red Book" see here, e.g. "Fifty years of subservience to the interest of the United States has deprived the Japanese of a national purpose and engendered a paralyzing identity crisis." [After all, Japan] "is the only non-Caucasian society to have created a modern superpower."
    • ...I hope they chosed him for his talent in literature
  • Others in the list include familiar names such as Jared Diamond, Freeman Dyson, Umbeto Eco, Vaclav Havel, Samuel Hungtington, Paul Krugman, Paul Kennedy, Kishore Mahbubani, and what? the new Pope Benedict XVI is an intellectual? maybe, at least he does not believe in 'intelligent design'

There are doves and hawks on both sides of the East China Sea. But it looks like China won a PR war, at least amoung intellectuals.

Do intellectuals influence how their fellow citizen think?

How do we explain a democracy which elected a racist, sexist lunatic? Déjà Vu?


(*) Non-political figures are Fan Gang (economist), Gao Xingjiang (Nobel Prize winner in literature, also a painter/sculpter), Ha Jin (writer, using English a medium, quite unknown inside China), Kenichi Ohmae (ex-McKinsey partner in Tokyo, strategy consultant).

(**) I wonder why Murakami Haruki is not on the list. He is, arguably, very influential in Asian pop-culture, including movies of Wong Kar Wai. He also has spent most of the past 15 years in US. He is better than Ha Jin, and as good as Gao Xingjiang.


88 said...

>>How do we explain a democracy which elected a racist, sexist lunatic?

People are generally racist and sexist lunatics, so it isn't surprising.

About these lists, I think they choose people based on influence, not on whether they agree with their ideas. And that "influence" is limited to other intellectuals and policymakers. Even by this standard, there are people on those lists that don't belong there.

Sun Bin said...

Yeah, all these 'lists' are imperfect. Interesting to read, and maybe indicative, but not to be taken too seriously.

It also shows that in Japan (and oriental societies including China), people are in general less sensitive to these issues compared to US or even Europe.

I just hope they voted for Ishihara because of the municipality issues. If he becomes PM, that would be quite worrisome.