Taiwan is democratic but not free - Where can I find Lian Wu in Shanghai?

Chairman Mao said, "We oppose anything our enemy supports 凡是敌人赞同的,我们就要反对)". Politicians in Taiwan listened.

I will start with a very minor issue: a simple business analysis of expanding the market for the mangos and bananas, and the delicious Lain Wu (莲雾) of Taiwan. (Fig = Black Pearl Lian-Wu 黑珍珠莲雾 , breeded by Taiwan farmer, the most delicious fruit from Taiwan. click picture at your own risk)

Upon hearing requests for market opening from Taiwanese farmers, PRC government offered a tariff-free deal with Taiwan for fruit trade. (I suppose that is a result of its success in dealing with the Tung Chee Hwa crisis in 2003/2004, CCP learned from its mistake) Instead of taking a free gift, Chen Shui Bian, the graduate of the prestigeous Taiwan University law school, and Annette Lu with a Master degree from the US, got childish and talked as if they (or the audience) were idiots. Listen to what Lu said (Chen's speech was similar)

  • "The fruit trade deal is a conspiracy of the mainland"
  • "mainland will get the technology, grow the fruit and dump back on Taiwan"
  • "Our fruits are of high quality, they should only be sold at high price to more affordable country Japan" (Chen talked the same 'illogic')

By technology she probably meant the seeds of the bananas and mangos, conveniently forgetting that anyhone can buy them in HK, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
The price analysis is also laughable. Taiwanese farmers are not stupid. They know if there are two customers they should sell to the one who offers a higher price. Why did the farmer's association asked for mainland to open the market?

  1. Japan alone cannot consume all the bananas and mangos
  2. There are also middle or lower quality fruit on each tree or each farm, which her masters in Japan would rather not consume
  3. Some of the high quality fruit can actually command a good premium in the mainland. Some dinners cost 10000RMB per head in the mainland these days!
  4. One more option (market), better bargaining power with other customers

To add to Lu's bigotry, Chen added, "Since this is an un-negotiated offer, the mainland can withdraw it any time in future". How about enjoy the profit to the greatest extent before they withdraw it? What do you have to lose?

Despite over 10 years of democracy practice, Taiwan still has not graduated. Common senses do not prevail in the politics in this island. Worse still, the freedom indicators seem to be retreating under the democratically elected DPP government.

  • Democratic but immature: pan-Blue and pan-Green continue their bickering at the Legislative Yuan (in issues not related to "arms procurement" - I have discussed in my previous posts that there are many very legitimate causes to oppose the arms deal). In addition, the knowledge of martial arts has miraculous effect on attracting votes.
  • Freedom to travel: DPP continues to ignore the extreme inefficiency in air traffic detour, making a 0.5-2 hour flight to into 6-9 hour ordeal (see map),destroying productivity and squandering resources of the Taiwanese people and business, hence hurting their competitiveness (Kinmen's official population increased by 30% when direct traffic to Xiamen was allowed for local residents!)
  • Freedom of migration: DPP continues to drag the feet of Taiwanese businesses from investing in the mainland, again hurting their competitiveness. When Dr. Richard Chang set up SMIC in Shanghai with the funding of US Venture Capitals, DPP resorted to prosecute the businessmen with dual citizenship for disobeying the ridiculous rule. Dr Chang countered by giving up the ROC passport, but the democratic and free "ROC in Taiwan" decided to ignore his constitutional right by forcing him to remain as an ROC hostage.
  • Freedom of speech: Today even freedom of speech is under threat when TVBS exposed a DPP scandal. DPP first forbid all its party member to appear on TVBS program and is now trying to accuse TVBS as a CCP minion. How can one of the top rating program in Taiwan be run by CCP? Please do not insult the intelligence of the people in the island. Remember it was also TVBS' criticism of the KMT regime which contributed to DPP's winning the 2000 election. (for discussion of technical/legal isssue see here , Satellite TV law see here)

Don't get me wrong, the immature democracy in Taiwan is still better than what the mainland, or even Hong Kong could enjoy today. I used to have high hope for DPP and I set a high standard for it, higher that waht I set for CCP or KMT. I have also believed it was too harsh to require DPP to learn how to rule in its first 4 years. CCP's policy in HK failed to meet its objective of making a show-case for Taiwan. Unfortunately, Taiwan also failed to show the CCP what democracy, rationality and freedom of speech really is. All I heard in this week was bigotry and ignorance, especially from the DPP. Is the benefit of the Taiwanese people on top of their priorities? Do they really care about these farmers? or about the ideal they have fought for all those years?

HK is free but not democratic. Taiwan is democratic but not free.


Commodity demand and the China factor

A recent presentation of the Macquarie Bank contains very interesting data charts on world commodity demand and some discussions about the impact of the China factor.
The first chart shows that the trend in metal prices finally decouple from that of OECD lead indicator in recent years. The explanation is pretty simple, as over 2 billions people joined the world labor, and hence consumer market, the indicator needs to include the urbanization of these 2 billion people.

The second chart shows that after the steel consumption (per capita) peaked in 1973, for about 25 years the growth in GDP/capita did not drive growth in steel consumption. It was only by late 1990s, that the correlation was observed again.

The third chart shows the same information for Copper and Nickel (but the axis were curiously switched). The stagnation in per capita consumption was less persistent than that for steel. One possible reason is that technology innovation (recycling and substitute materials) for steel may have played a more important role than for copper/nickel.

The fourth chart is the most interesting. There is a GDP/cap correlation line, showing China is about 1/3 below the line in terms of per capita consumption of copper.

  1. There is still room to grow for China's consumption, especially as its GDP/cap grows
  2. Even more room for India and other developing countries (unlabelled dots)
  3. Much more interesting observation is that for Taiwan and South Korea (and Finland, Sweden, Belgium). I believe that is due to the electronic and computer related industries, which consume a lot of copper
  4. An immediate corollary for this observation is that Taiwan and S Korea are not the end consumers for copper. The consumers scatter in various parts of the world, in their export destinations (mainly the OECD). I can even bet that Japan in the 1960s stands high above the line.
  5. Now come back to look at China, the "world factory". It is now quite straightforward to conclude that a lot of "China's consumption" is not consumed by China, instead, it is "re-exported" as finished goods to the rest of the world. Therefore, some of China's "apparent consumption" growth are indeed relocation of processing and assembling factories from existing processors such as Korea and Taiwan, and that the end consumer are still the same people in OECD countries -- i.e., a zero-sum transfer to China.
  6. Therefore, to predict the future we need to separate China's consumption into 2 portions, domestic consumption and export consumption, because the two have very different starting bases and growth trends. Projecting the per capita growth for China is a very different task compared with that for Japan's or France's, as some may have reached the saturation levels.

A per capita study on a per country basis could be misleading in today's globalized world, especial when we analyze exporters. It is important to carefully distinguish secondary industry consumption (processing and exporting) from ultimate consumption (end consumer), in order to make an accurate projection.

The fifth chart is Macquarie's projection for 2001-2010. It shows China's consumption (red) as a portion of the world, for copper, aluminum, nickel and zinc. Macquarie projected China's consumption in 2001-2010 to be from 1/3 (Nickel) to 2/3 (Zinc) that of the world! Based on our discussion above, I believe this is definitely an over-estimate. The more likely number could perhaps be between 1/3-1/2 of the world. I am also curious about their projection of steel consumption, because a lot of the steel was indeed consumed domestically (construction and builfding) and such unsegmented trend analysis may be more accurate..

Now 1/3-1/2 is still a very high number. That is because this includes end-consumption of the OECD countries and many other which import from China. One way to verify this is to trace the historical per capita consumption of OECD countries, they most likely have decreased significantly as production was shifted to China. In particular, the US consumption may begin to decrease in mid 1990s and that for EU beginning of this century.

A much more reliable benchmark for per capita consumption of a commocidty is oil. Since the re-export for oil (and derivative products such as plastics) may distort the big picture less dramatically (except for Singapore and the Netherlands, they would be the odd one out above the correlation line). China consumes about 1/4 of the oil in the world, commensurate to its population share. (slightly higher than its population share due to its high energy consumption industries, compared with that of, e.g. California or Bangalore)

To conclude,

  • Is China part of the cause for recent surge in commodity demand and price? Yes, one of the main factors.
  • Is this reflected by the trade figures? Not really, the amount processed to be exported as finished goods needs to be taken into account. They are not consumed by China.
  • Would China's consumption grow at the current speed for long? No. Because most of the 'transfer from Korea/Taiwan' will be completed soon and then it is about the true growth of China.
  • Would China continue to have a low productivity/energy ratio (measured by GDP/fuels burned)? Yes. Because China's industries are mainly manufacturing indsutries. In fact, it will continue to be lower than that of India.
  • Is China consuming all the commodities (as the Macqarie projection predicts) of the world? No. Raw metals flow into China only because the first step of manufacturing occurs in China. China's role in commodities is no different from that of Holland and Singapore in oil refinery.


Update: My hypothesis on copper "consumption" of Taiwan, Korea and Japan is confirmed. See this chart by a BHP Billiton Report.

  • Japan's line flattens below the BHP trend line since 1993 (the rightmost 10 red points). But I would actually push 6-7 dots further left and trace the decline back to 1986/87. Strong indicator that the consumption shifted into indirect, i.e. via imported parts/finished goods, mostly from China. The vertical descent between 2000-04 (rightmost 4 dots) could represent another wave of migration of factory.
  • The slope for Korea (green dots) is higher than that for Japan, and that for Taiwan (blue dots) higher than Korea's. A strong evidence that slope is inversely correlated to the size of the economy. i.e. export (of copper related products) as a % of GDP is highest for Taiwan, then Korea, then Japan when they are at the same GDP/cap level
  • One can view Korea and Taiwan's numbers as the sum of two numbers, the export portion, and the true domestic consumption which is comparable to that of America or Japan
  • China's (per capita consumption) line, will have a slope smaller than Japan's, because its population base is larger.
  • In fact, Henandez of BHP Billiton raised the same question I raised in the upper corner of his chart, "High apparent consumption for export oriented manufacturing economies?" I feel good. :)


Light viewing (and listening ): China's "Back Dorm Boys" and others

China's answer to Romania's Numa Numa show (original show) is called the "Back Dorm Boys 后舍男生 " (via www.tian.cc). Don't miss Tian's other cool stuffs.
  • AFAIK they have been around for at least over half a year now. Boing Boing is also featuring this recently, with some related links in the comment fields as well.

As for how the internet has changed the enterntaiment (esp music) industry, some anecdotes here.


The Myth of the strategic location of the Taiwan Strait

I read from many reputable reports that the Taiwan strait is a strategic sea route for oil (and other commodities) from middle east to Japan (presumably via Malacca Strait / Singapore). e.g.

  • "Tokyo must have concluded that a potential cross-Strait war would interrupt Japan's energy supply routes from the Middle East" - Yale Global
  • "Japan sees a key sea route, the Taiwan Strait, in danger." - Der Spiegel
I was confused. So I did a small exercise with maps, Curzon style.

  • The red route is the shortest path between Singapore and Yokohama. It passes the Luzon Strait (Babuyan Channel and Bashi Channel), not the Taiwan Strait
  • The yellow route passes through Taiwan Strait, is obviously a detour from Japan to anywhere, except maybe Haiphong
  • For transportation of other materials from SE Asia, e.g. Brunei, the Black route shows that Taiwan Strait is even further away from the ideal route
  • Even if Taiwan Strait is more convenient, the availability of the alternative via Luzon Strait deems it "optional" instead of "essential"
Indeed Taiwan Strait is of strategic important to China, as it connects Guangzhou/HK to Shanghai and beyond. It may also serve as a short cut between Korea (Pusan) and Vietnam (Haiphong). If anyone should be worried, it should be the Koreans and Vietnamese.

Update: US PACOM map agrees with me.

Now, why is Japan so interested in a sea route which is really very marginal to its needs?


A note about Great Circle (geodesic) path:

Since the earth is a sphere and the map is a projection onto a plane (with area distortion), my straight line approach is only an approximation.

To be more precise one needs to use the "great circle" to find the shortest path on a spherical surface. The graph on the right shows the great circle for (see
great cicle tool here)

  • Singapore -Tokyo (via Luzon Strait): 3324 miles
  • Singapore - Makung (Penghu) - Tokyo: 3352 miles (should be longer because the GC path has to cut into Hsinchu, which tanker cannot sail into)
  • Singapore - Kinmen - Tokyo: 3383 miles

So the path via Taiwan strait is 1-2% longer than that via Luzon Strait, not a sizable difference, but Luzon Strait is more "strategic".

The last chart is using azimuthal projection from Singpaore, so that every striaght line from the center represents the shortest (great circle) distance, (but lines not passing the centers are not). We can again see the shortest path is closer to the NW tip of Luzon.


Koizumi, Lorelei of the Pacific? - do we understand our Japanese friends?

Koizumi told Robert Novak of CNN, about his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the war deads 'including 14 “Class A” war criminals from World War II'

  • "I understand because of the war 60 years ago [that the Chinese] feel Japan is a threat. So, I understand that they want to contain Japan. I think to advance this perception of Japan as a rival and to create a sense of ‘anti-Japan’ in China would be advantageous to the Chinese leadership.”
  • He then parrots Rummy, "We have to be careful about China’s military buildup, it has to be made more transparent than it is”, conveniently forgetting to mention Japan has been maxing its own defense budget at 1% GDP, or $45bn this year, compared with China's $30-45bn (official vs Rand's high end). Japan's number does not include its space program and it has a much smaller territory to defend. (See for yourself Yosukan's view of history in this picture (via Life After Jiangxi).
I seldom blog about the recent diplomatic problem between China and Japan. Because there is not much reasoning or solution I could offer.

  • China is obviously worried about a re-arming Japan. It is further pissed off by Japan's meddling with the Taiwan matter. It also oppose granting a permanent seat in the UNSC to a Japan which is still ambiguous about war of aggression in general
  • Western media (I mean US mainly), mostly side with the Japanese, with different motivations, ranging from the generic distrust of China's current political system to those who prefer to enlist Japan into the front of containing China

China did conveniently leverage the popular discontent to support its decision to block Japan's bid to UNSC (and let some steam off the pressurized cooker). But its reaction to Koizumi's recent Yasukuni visit has become much more restrained (since that objective is already achieved - thanks 88s for the clarification). In fact, even the street protests this spring has led to only very limited damage. CCP is more worried about letting popular movement out of control. That is why the scale of protest you have seen in Korea in the past 60 years has not been observed in China until this spring.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that today's Japan is hardly the Japan in 1930s, nor is today's international environment which is dominated by globalization and commercial interests.

In fact, one key fact that is consistently missed in westerm reporting is that PRC had always been careful to distinguish the "majority of peace-loving Japanese people" from the "minority right wing revisionist". Your can discount this as party rhetoric, but that has been emphasized every single time domestically and internationally, from 1949 to 1972 to 2005.

Personally, I have no doubt the majority of the Japanese would not endorse any war of aggression, nor do the Chinese. We have all learned that it is easier to assure one's interests through trading and negotiating (than warring). I also believe that many of the Japanese soldiers killed in WWII are innocent and there is nothing wrong in honoring them. I actually was told by some old Chinese that some officers in the Japanese Army were very friendly to kids. Furthermore, I am sure we all agree that those who run Yasukuni and Yushukan represent only the minorities in Japan.

However, what has been troubling the Koreans and the Chinese are

  • Is this minority right wing endorsed by some in the mainstream in Japan? if so, what is the extent?
  • How many percent of the vote do they really represent?
  • How likely will the support of the right grow, given the official endorsement such as the Yasukuni visit?
  • What the Japanese school and Japanese society really teach their next generation?

These are important issues, given Japan is a 'democracy'. I do not have an answer. I will just share with you some anecdotes I found.

  1. The interviews by Japan Today in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, a random sample of personal views. Please read for yourself.
  2. Kyodo News Poll in MAy/2005 (via Japundit): 57.7% are of the opinion that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni Shrine this year. BUT 34.3% said he sould (the rest probably won't care). A similar survey in Dec/2004 (before the Korea/China protests): 40.8% vs 51%, so there has already been dramatic change in 5 months.
  3. There is a movie call "Lorelei: Witch of the Pacific", which was a blockbuster in Japan this spring, viewed by 2M people in theatres, collecting Yen2,5Bn ($22.5M) in box office.
    • For US comparison, Yen2.5M is about 8.3% that of all time high Howl's Moving Castule's Yen30Bn. 12% of all time high US Box Office (Titanic's $600M in 1997) would be $50M, i.e. comparable to the "Phantom of the Opera (2004)" or "Austin Power: IMM (1997)"
    • This in important because its box office success and the popularity of the author of the original book, Harutoshi Fukui. I would talk about why this movie troubled me below
    • For a review see this, for interview with the director here. Japundit called it 'ring winged and nationalistic".

I think Japan deserves to be treated as a normal nation, like Germany does. To require Japan do what Germany did is probably too demanding, but there is definitely more Japan could do. I would still want to believe the right wing will be contained at the minority status, but the trend is not entirely optimistic. While there is perhaps no clear reason to be worried about Japan today, I really hope US can take over the enormous Plutonium stockpile Japan owns. This would serve Asian people, including the Japanese people, a great favor.


Appendix: some comments about the movie Lorelei:

The film is entertaining by itself, except the the CGI is very primitive (even compared with computer games). It is basically a what-if scenario fantasy, telling a story of how a submarine, equipped with a human sonar, stopped the evil American's B-26 which planned to drop its 3rd A-bomb on Tokyo. Instead of going into the revisionist approach of "what-if" Japan acquired this secret weapon, and potentially changed the result of WWII, I will just list a few examples

  • The background of the movie is told in 3 lines. "1) 1945 Summer, the world was full of pillage and discord; 2) it was the waning days of WWII; 3) people had lost all hope in life" (click screenshots in the right). Nothing more. It then shifts to the bombing of Hiroshima, and then Japanese Navy's heroic effort to stop further nukes
  • It is adrenaline ride afterwards, until the sub accomplished its mission and disappeared into the sea in front of some 5 dozens of US destroyers. It ends with the aged US navy officers talking with admiration the "Witch of the Pacific" in Saipan years later. Maybe US surrendered unconditionally, maybe Japan did, choose your own preferred version.
  • Throughout the movie, all Japanese soldiers and officers talked about how their family members were killed (presumably by US air raid). One of the main characters was so vengeful wanted to revenge the Kamikaze way.
  • The movie talked about Nazi's eugenic experiments. But apparently the best gene comes from a Paula who is half Japanese and speak fluent Japanese
  • The only anti-war dialogue is from the American naval officers, who said "I hate war"
  • Norimitsu Onishi of NYT commented, 'Colonel Asakura, wants America to annihilate Tokyo with an atomic bomb so that Japan can be reborn; if Japan simply submits to America, Colonel Asakura says in one of the movie's most memorable lines: "Japan will degrade itself and become a slave to the United States. Does a country like that have any worth?".....Those sentiments, Mr. Fukui says, are the movies' most salient because they reflect widespread feelings among Japanese that their country is stumbling forward....Those extremists, though destroyed in his stories, are more attractive than the heroes. The good guys, in another commentary on today's Japan, ''have no strong vision,'' he said.....Mr. Fukui's stories reflect prevailing beliefs among the political class. But more than speeches or newspaper editorials, the big-budget movies based on his stories may go a long way toward influencing ordinary Japanese who, according to polls, have yet to be convinced that Japan needs a strong military.'

More reviews in Chinese can be found here , here and here.


Hong Kong's Guinness Record, bit torrent, piracy vs privacy in HK

A district court in Tuen Mun decided an unemployed men, Nai-ming Chan, known by his internet handle as "Gu Huo Tian Huang" (古惑天皇, Tricky Heaven-Emperor), guilty on bit-torrent seeding of 3 movies. It will determine whether he would be fined or jailed in the coming week.

The man did not make a single cent from uploading the torrent files or the seeding the movies. ("official" background coverage here)

This has won a Guinness First for HK in the "war against piracy", and made HK Hollywood's best friend, maybe. In US and UK, suspects are usually threatened by RIAA to settle for a few thousand dollars against P2P sharing of several thousand soundtracks. Many experts also believe that, by fighting against internet sharing of entertainment content instead of leveraging the technology, Hollywood is probably making the same mistake when it fought aginst VHS and Betamax in the 1970s. DVD/VHS sales later were proven to yield higher revenue than box office.

One wonders, why HK scored this global first, while MPAA and RIAA struggle elsewhere, including in the industry-friendly USA and technologically advanced Scandinavia.

There are many reasons, among them
  • HK is eager to shed its reputation of piracy haven
  • HK itself has, arguably, been the movie capital in Asia. Local industry group has been instrumental in pressuring the government for action
  • But more controversial and crucial is, though, how the man was searched and indicted.
    • In US, it requires a John Doe suit to force the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to release the IP address in order to identify the suspect
    • Canada goes one step further, ISPs cannot release the IP addresses of its users.
    • In HK, there was the alleged "blatant violation of privacy" by Chan's ISP, i-Cable, a subsidiary of the Wharf Group, which has led to the Custom Officers charging into the suspect's home and seized his had-disk
    • The ISP also provided evidence to the prosecutors when it went into trial, without any challenge from the local "democrats" or "human right fighters". Apparently Martin Lee's human right is more equal than Naiming Chan's.

Media discussions have been focused on whether BT is a technology we should embrace, or P2P sharing is legitimate. Little attention was paid to the privacy and legal implications. Mr Chan, himself, has not made any indication of suing i-Cable for privacy violation (nor has anyone reminded him of such option), which could have been a good case in another country.

HK's success is a result of its free-trade, low tax and its legal system. The legal system has been undersieged since Tung Chee Hwa and Slug-in-Eel came to power, there are also discussions and plans to complicate its simple tax scheme (sales tax!). HK has vowed to encourage technology innovation ever since the property bubble burst in 1998. While HK's so called Cyberport project was accused of cronyism and was eventually turned into a real estate development, in California Bit-torrent has received $8.75M of funding from Venture Capital DCM-Doll.

On the other hand, ruling the first seeder in BT illegal barely solve the problem. New technology can always circumvent the legal loopholes (e.g. exeem has decentralized trackers). It is also hard to locate and sue seeders in other countries. In China, seeds are placed in Internet Cafe's, which makes the responsibility even harder to track. Wi-fi (and Wimax in future) is already under deployment in many US cities (Chaska MN, Culver City CA, Philadelphia, and San Francisco), you cannot trace IP address in a wi-fi connection.

HK boasts many world first's:

Is this one a "first" that HK should be proud of?


Update: Charter Garden made it clear, he is not comfortable with the notion that “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” Remember the Article 23 debate.

Update (Nov 6): Chen was sentenced to 3 months (3 movies, about 40-50 downloads), while a similar offense in Sweden was fined $2000 (1 movie). In the US, web-site listing millions of movie, music, softwares such as suprnovr.org and elite torrent were warned and shut down; no one goes to jail. However, there are many still operating, mostly hosted/operated outside the US. HK has its own peculiar "justice".


A practical solution to the North Korean refugee problem, inspired by studying maps

The picture on the right is a frame from this disturbing video (right click to download), where a hidden camera caught a human and goods smuggler being executed in DPRK. (Update: SMH/Guardian coverage of the story and long version of the same video (right click to download) via freekorea and Korean Mediator.)

These smugglers are the same people who formed part of the causes for the misery of the women refugee in NE China today, many of them tricked and sold (involuntarily) to Korean Chinese across the border, see this report from antislavery.org (via TPD and the Telegraph, but I advise you to read the case studies in the report to fully understand the situations, as I myself got confused and sort of misled by the simplified paraphrasing. Also the statistics of the report is probably exaggerated, as I have seen many N Koreans working as waitresses in the smaller border towns). I think the smugglers deserve to be punished, harshly, but their guilts do not deserve death penalty, especially if the refugees are voluntary and that there is often lack of proper trial.

Update: an anonymous comment quoted this report by Russian expert on Korea, Andrei Lankov of ANU, which is consistent with my personal observation and experience in China's Jilin province. antislave.org's statistics are very likely exaggerated.

What bothers me is, the Hobson's choice available to these poor women refugees: stay married to old and unattractive Korean or Chinese man, work as prostitute, or be sent back into gulag and starved. The root cause of the misery for these poor women, is that they cannot escape even if no one chained them to their "job", because they will face repatriation immediately as soon as they venture out on the streets.

Many westerners, try to blame the Chinese government for not providing refugee status to the North Koreans (e.g. report by onefreekorea). As ACB pointed out, the motivations are often hypocritical and they also failed to consider the full reperscussion of a refugee surge.

China does have the duty to help its neighbor, as we all do to our own neighbors as another fellow human being. But we should also understand that it needs the help of the West. Unfortunately, among all the nations (and the UN itself) calling for China to grant political refugee status to the North Koreans, none of them is willing to do what they want China to do, except South Korea, which is receiving these refugees. But even South Korea cannot promise to (or realistically) accommodate 100,000's of them if the border is effectively opened. UN now is finally comptemplating granting political refugee status to North Koreans, but I am not optimistic. The First World does not want to deal with the Vietnam refugee problem again, especially when their domestic unemployment is still a major concern.

If we want to close a deal in any business negotiation, we always have to put ourselves into the shoes of our counterparts, and try to find a solution that also, at least partly, addresses their problem.

From China's own perspective, it does have several problems

  1. The UN only recognizes these people as "economic refugee". Therefore it cannot say China is doing anything against UN rule, and force China alone to classify them as political refugees. (They really are economical refugees)
  2. China wants UN to call them political refugee, so that if they come in in millions, the Western world will have to share the burden. China can take a certain number of them, but it is most worried about a mass exodus that follows. Do not forget China itself has worked very hard to control its own population growth (one-child policy)
  3. There is also the concern of Korean minority separatism near the border (green area on the map), and the fact that some Koreans are still alleging border dispute across the Yalu and Yanbian area, among others
  4. China has an agreement with DPRK, to repatriate any refugee they may received. They have to honor such promise.
  5. China could break the agreement unilaterally, but it does not want to piss off Kim Jong-Il. After all, it is the six-country negotiation that has provided China with some limited leverage and respect from the US, amid the China-threat mongering.
  6. A collapse of the DPRK will also lead to an uncontrollable wave of refugee, which China honestly cannot deal with, unless it has received the promise of help from the West to share the burden

So China and UN are playing the waiting game of definition. In the midst the refugees suffer. All the UN needs to do is to declare them as political refugees. But then the first world countries (US/ Europe/ Japan/ Korea/ Australia/ Canada) need to promise to provide home to them (like they did to the Vietnamese in late 1970s).

Is there a solution that can help these refugees? We need to make sure the refugees already in China have a safe destination and not be repatriated, meanwhile address some or part of China's concern, and in particular, making fleeing North Korea not too easy lest that would trigger an avalanche of fleeing. China refuses to allow UN to set up a refugee center on its soil, because that would encourage more refugee coming.

An examination of the map provides us with a plausible solution.

  • Most of the border crossing (according to the antislave report) occurs in the green area of the first map. It is where Korean Chinese resides on the north side, and also where the boundary river (upper stream of Tumen River) is narrow and shallow, and the mountain is high and guard stations sparse (2nd map).
  • The anti-slave report alleged the pattern is due to the famine in this poor area. Not true. (1) Many interviewed in the report are from Pyongyang area. (2) Examine the third map, this NE area is full of forest and scrub, local people probably rely on hunting more than agriculture for food. It is sparsely populated, and least affected by famine.
  • The crucial observation is the relatively low refugee flow in the NW near Sinuijiu/Dandong, and NE tip from Tumen to Russia border. The river was too wide and the banks easier to guard there. There are also less ethic Koreans on the opposite side who speak the language.

    Noticing Russia's Far East, we find the last piece of the puzzle. We need to

    1. Ask China and Russia to turn a blind eye on refugee passage across the China/Russia border
    2. International agencies and UN can set up a welcome center on the Russian side of the border, and transfer the refugee to S Korea or other countries, on their discretion
    3. UN does not have to declare them as political refugee. No pressure on the hypocrites in the First World. China can continue its current policy, without fear of jeopardizing the delicate relationship with Kim Jong-il, or trigger an avalanche of refugees (because such indirect passage involves a much higher 'transaction cost')
    4. For Russia, it does not even need to accept these refugees. All they need to do is to turn the illegal immigrants to UN before repatriating to China, and allow UN to ship the qualified refugees away. Its border with N Korea remains close. Russia can also retain the discretion to close the border with China if the situation gets worse. China is the buffer zone.
    5. Kim Jong-il cannot blame Russia for what they do with "Chinese refugees", nor can they blame China for failing to control its long border with Russia.

    The trick is, by bringing in a third party, the relationship between N Korea and its northern neighbors is maintained. Meanwhile, the cost and difficulty to flee N Korea remains high so that large scale exodus is not encouraged. But UN is able to achieve its objectives to rescue the refugees. Even the abused women hiding in China will have less to fear, this is exactly what they need in order to break away from serfdom as asserted by antislave.org.

    Blogspot unblocked in China

    This is not news. But I have been able to see visitors from Beijing and Shanghai for over a week now. See this map, a snapshot of the previous 15 visitors to my site. if you want one for yourself, look here and click "home".

    Related note: prompted by the lack of English coverage on events occuring in China (e.g. Taishi), Anti is going to be translate essays inside China, the ESWN way. Keep a bookmark on his English blog.

    1. was told that Shenzhen ISP has unblocked a few days after Beijing and Shanghai.
    2. today, the first search referral from Baidu arrived


    Applying 'Game theory' to the Taiwan Strait problem, Google image and Anti-Secession Law

    It is now widely known that you can see everything with google's satellite maps.

    All major air-force bases in Taiwan can be viewed in google (see this, this or this for more pictures of air-bases in Hsinchu (with parked F-104), Chiayi, Pingtung, Tainan), taken maybe 1-2 years ago. Same for any other location on earth (e.g., San Diego Naval Base's Swatiska) except a few censored locations like the White House.

    But more interesing is a 1:1 model of the Taichung Ching Chuan Gang (台中清泉岗) base built in NW China (the 2 white labels in the China map on the first picture indicates locations). In zooomed pictures below, the yellow ones are that of Taichung Ching Chuna Gang, grey ones from Badanjilin (巴丹吉林), in the desert in NW China.

    • There is nothing surprising and no need to be paranoid. Military exercise and model target can be found in Taiwan and any other parts of the world as well. If we can see this in google, the Pentagon and the armed forces in mainland and Taiwan all knew it long, long ago (and other sites). This is just to demonstrate the power google has given to the public.
    • In fact, one can say the GPS and targeting technology of the PLA is very primitive. Because sophisticared modern technology (used by US in gulf wars) will deem such mega target for training irrelevant, hence no need to build such target model
    • There may be a small connection to the controversial Arms Deal in Taiwan, in that the submarines and anti-subs are quite irrelevant in defending against an amphibious assaults. Michael Thurton was right that air control is more important than subs. But destruction of airports will neutralize this advantage. Taiwan only has so many airports, and the PAC-3 will always be outnumbered by PLA missiles. So it is not optimistic for Taiwan.

    In realpolitik, peace is secured by deterrance and balance of power. Fortunately, nowadays the stakes for war are much higher thanks to globalization. A decent defense for Taiwan, and a decent attack power of the PLA could both help to secure peace across the strait.

    According to the game theory exercise that earned this year's Nobel Prize, it is all about deterrant against any move that might escalate conflict. I will digress on Schelling's theory as per LofC's request. Schelling's theory can be illustrated with a simply analogy.

    1. Say if two people go into a duel with sword, the loser might suffer severy injury but may not die. So it is very common in the pre-gun era to go into sword duel (apart from other psychological, social and legal reasons)
    2. With the invention of a deadly weapon called gun, the stake becomes much higher. but one still can hope to kill the other in one shot and be opportunistis. The skilled shooter (or cheater) often is willing to take chance.
    3. However, if each person also holds a remote control, which will detonate a bomb that could kill both. He could press the remote at his last breath. There is no point going into a duel any more
    4. The remote controlled bomb is basically Schelling's theory of "deadly second strike". What Schelling did was to simply extend the basic von Neumann game theory of matrix (table) computation (A tabulation of score with columns and rows representing options of the 2 parties, single move game) into a time series analysis (more than one move for each party), and translate it from mathematics into layman's language. Threat of destruction prevents destruction from happening.
    5. One caveat, Game Theory analysis assume perfect information and best options choseon by both side. Incomplete information on one side will lead to entirely different choice and outcome (the movie Dr. Strangelove was probably made to help the US and USSR to make the right choices and disclosures)

    To formulate a "game theory" model, we need to list the options of both players in a 2-dimensional matrix, mainland's options as column entries and Taiwan's row entries. The more the number of options we can contemplate, the larger this matrix is. We then proceed to assign values of each cell in the matrix: option m(x) vs option t(y), based on the result of option x from mainland and option y from Taiwan. A mathematical analysis can then be performed to find out which option (combination, with a probability mix) will generate the maximum value for the palyer (m or t), assuming the opponent is also applying the best strategic option mix available. This is the classical von Neumann model in the normal form. To apply Schelling's theory we need to apply many of these matrices as the follwing "turns" of the game. One may also needs to incorporate the options and responses of the US. The analysis could get immensely complicated.

    • Technical note: the first entry is the score for player 1 and the second entry the score for player 2
    • An example will be Play 1's best option is to apply option (x1,x2,x3) with probability (60%,40%,0%) and that for play 2 (30%,20%,50%)

    Since among the scenarios there are some which involve conflict and probably even war. This is definitely a non-zero-sum game. (but not neccessarily negative sum, see my next post)

    Fortunately, we can significantly simplify the problem if we know the scores of certain options are immensely higher than others. e.g. my earlier post about an extremely simplified case of long term sum of scores. The conlusion is to extend the status quo and put off confrontation.

    For Taiwan this means to maintain its so-called "de facto independence", and avoid any action toward a "nominal independence". Even hardliner Lee Tenghui understands this. Unfortunately some within DPP and TSU (and enthusiastic foreigners) do not.

    For the mainland, it needs to take a soft approach so as not to push Taiwan further away, while establishing significant barrier to any move away from status quo. Firing missiles in 1996 with no clear understanding of the consequence was idiotic. Recent moves to appeal for the opposition party is a good change. Quite counter-intuitively, the "Anti-Seccession" Law of PRC (for the American version, see here - salon.com requites you to view an ad for a "site pass", Salon has a great business concept which I will come back to in another post) also serves the same purpose, as Lee Kuan Yew correctly pointed out. If a unilateral move by Taiwan toward "nominal" (vs the so-called "de facto") independence will automatically trigger PLA reaction, the likelihood of such scenario will be greatly reduced, hence also the chance of a war. Leaking of the Badanjilin target model, interntionally or unintentionally, reinforces such threat and may help the statud quo.

    Unfortunately, the ASL is vaguely worded, especially the Article 8 "that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted (和平统一的可能性完全丧失)". Who is there to interpret "possibility"? What kind of idiot lawyer drafted this? Even if Taiwan declared independence today, I would argue, there is still possibility for unification in, say, 100 years later.

    CCP inserted this clause to give itself more leeway as to how to define what would 'trigger' ASL. DPP is now questioning the claim of "no declaration no invasion", since CCP effectively retained the right to attack even without a formal declaration of indepedence. From the DPP's perspective, if you can attack me even if I behave, what is the point of listening to you.

    This reflects extreme stupidity and complacency from CCP's side. Because only a threat which follows certain explicit and well-defined trigger is a real threat. By compromising to give itself a leeway, CCP has significantly sabotaged this threat.

    Now go back to the game theory model. If the elements of the matrices are "disconnected", so that we can isolate certain sub-matrices (sub-square, or sub-rectangles, in mathematical language, it is "block-diagonalizable"). The analysis is simple, because we can use small sub-blocks of ASL and it won't entangle with other options. We could hence conclude that ASL helps to achieve the goal of maintaining status quo. However, if the sub-matrix interacts with the rest of the elements (in technical term, off-diagonal blocks are non-zero), the problem becomes more complicated. This is exactly what the last clause of ASL has done. So, please take that line away in the next NPC.

    The above discussion is under the premise that status quo is the best long term objective. But if we try to think out of the box, this is not neccessarily so. I would discuss about this in my next post, which will start from a quote you heard in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.


    Light viewing: Arirang video

    I am always passionately curious about people who live in North Korea. So I am thrilled to find these beautiful videos from Dan Schor's site (via Boing Boing).

    Links are for your convenience, But Please do read Dan Schor's full DPRK trip report and his 300 photo album.

    Note the background picture is composed by thousands of peoples, each carrying a few colored boards.

    You can see the "pixels" if you click to enlarge the flag picture, and see the picture below that for the people before the performance.

    Talking about DPRK cardboard arts, I have this great video ad on my hard-disk (right click this to download).

    p.s. Don't miss Austin Arsensberg's upcoming picture, and reports. Apparently he went in the same tour, and may provide us with his interpretation, and of course more colorful pictures.

    related link: Guardian article on Arirang Festival

    Update: visitor James introduces Weecheng's travel report .

    Hu should be playing bridge?

    "Deng Xiaoping was a dedicated, faithful, straight forward bridge player." according to Weiqi (Go) champion and also prominent bridge player Nie Weiping. It is fair to say that Nie had single-handedly defeated the the entire Japanese squad in the first 2 Go Supermatches between Japan and China in the 1980s, after the rest of his team were entirely eliminated.

    • "I thought people called Deng Xiaoping a master of bridge only because he was Deng Xiaoping," recalled Nie, Deng's bridge partner for almost ten years.
    • Nie said that Deng's skill at bridge showed his clear mind. Deng was a dedicated, faithful, straight forward player.
    • "The 'oldie' played bridge not only for taking a break but also for training himself, spiritually and physically," said Nie.
    • The pair was always a triumphant one.
    • "We won almost all the games, because our rivals were often a bit weaker than us," explained Nie.
    Deng learned the game of bridge when he was a teenager, working in menial jobs in France. He picked it up again to fill the slow days when he was fired by Mao. I believe the discipline required for this game must have affected the way Deng solved problems when China opened up.

    The single most important tip for playing good Bridge is to adhere strictly to a set of rules and discipline, be rational and not taking chance. A bridge game is won after many hands, 16, 32 or 128, for example. There is also certain randomness and factor of luck in each hand. The goal is to get the highest overall score. Therefore, taking chance in a single hand, by betting at odd of probability, or deceiving your partner, will create more damage in following hands and the trust of one's partnership. The other lesson from the game of bridge is that, the more hands you are playing, the more important it is for you to adhere to consistent discipline. Because that would assue any luck and bad-luck will be evened out.

    To put such discipline in a simple example, let's look at the non-zero sum game of hosted gambling (any game in a casino or lottery, as opposed to zero-sum poker game with your friends). The games are non-zero sum in nature because the pay-out is always less than the odd. Some money needs to be extracted to pay for the taxes and the profit and cost of the host/operator. (e.g. you lose 5.3% in every Roulette bet) The only exception is when there is a grand jackpot, where losers in previous games are subsidizing for the current game. I only buy lottery when there is a jackpot.

    The same discipline could be trained in operating a business. For example, it may cost you more than your revenue to appease a few customers' complain today but the goal is to make money in the long run. It is also imperative to plan your business strictly based on market data and logical analysis. Many great bridge players are also great businessmen (e.g., James Cayne).

    Such discipline is also encouraged in Western (can I say especially Anglo-Saxon? enlightenment needed), and Japanese (which is also influenced by the British strongly - Ito Hirobumi) education and culture. Therefore, the game of bridge is not the only way to learn about discipline and rationality in these countries. Unfortunately, the education and culture in China, and that in many other 'ancient cultures', do not encourage such displine. Taking chance and cutting corner are learned over generations and people thought they have mastered the art, and are commonly believed to be not a big deal. Some even claim that being honest and idealistic is "politically immature". For this, Anit made a good example of non-compromising when he said

    • "Stay away from any lie, even if it is beneficial to your cause" (远离任何谎言,哪怕它对你很有利)
    • "You can call me politically immature, but I and my peers will insist truth as the top priority in our works..."你们可以说我政治不成熟,但我和我的同行们会坚持把真实作为工作的第一追求,因为中国无论哪派,都太缺一个真实报道的新闻界了。

    Many people in China are very "mature" politically, so mature that they are willing to distort facts to suit their purposes. This includes many in the CCP and not so few in the anti-CCP camps.

    I do not know if Hu plays bridge. But he should learn the game if he hasn't already, to train for the discipline and rationality. This applies to many other leaders in this world, including the ruling and opposition parties across the strait.

    Many problems would be greatly simplified if one can sit back and apply logic and rationality, and realize that adhering to the rules is the winning choice in the long run, especially when there are many games to play in future.

    I will use Taishi as an example, but there are many more.

    • The logical holes in the Q&A published by Panyu authority, and the lack of follow up to the mob indicate that the Guangdong government is "cutting corner", sacrificing anti-curruption and respect for rule of law, in favor of the ill-defined "stability"
    • Question: Can the short term benefit in the name of "stability" in one single (ok, maybe a few hundreds or thousands) village outweigh that of constructing a mechanism to ensure clean village mayor, hence address the complains of peasants before they escalate into protest and real chaos, in 680,000 villages? I am not talking about democracy. I am talking about STABILITY.

    I was elated when Hu fired Zhang Wenkang in Apr, 2003. But I was not impressed because he was complacent about the bureacrats in Guangdong, who were at least equally guilty. Compared with SARS, Taishi alone is a small case, but not so if multiplied by 680,000.

    I hope Deng had bothered to teach Hu to play bridge.

    p.s. Having said that, one may draw the parallel of Hu's dealing with the Guangdong clan with Jiang's dealing with Chen Xitong - the corrupted Beijing Major who was also arguably the top culprit in 1989. There is a possibility that Hu is playing a game of patience with the Guangdong clan while cosolidating his power. Maybe the corruption thread can be traced all the way up to the most senior of the Guangdong clan. Who would take so much "risk" to protect a lowly village head and go into such length in lying if he himself is not connected to the corruption?

    p.s.2. check out the88s' post about the PSC


    William Fallon and how to read the book of Sun Zi

    "The big goal is, no military interaction, long-term stability -- you guys solve your problem peacefully. Now what's the smartest way to get there?" (the link was added by a self-promoting me)

    -- William Fallon, AP interview on Taiwan's defense option

    ESWN introduced us to Chinese journalist Lin Jun's "Sunshine in the Rye" (阳光麦地). It presents a good perspective on the Taishi incidence. An intelligent mind, I went on to scan her earlier writings and found this one of particular interests. It is about her impression of ADMIRAL WILLIAM J. FALLON, USN Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, at a press conference in the US Embassy in Beijing (translated in part below)
    • "...I am a die-hard pacifist, with certain prejudice to anyone in the military...this admiral in front of me, who commands 300k of armed force, has a kindly face, speaks in uniform apce, appears really frank and soft, just like a good tempered uncle in my neighborhood
    • Fallon said, he came to China to communicate and cooperate with Chinese leaders. He added, only if we are frank to each other, and know each other well, can we eliminite mis-understanding, and hence reduce the possibility of war and conflict. I was taken aback, "This is new, and he thought avoiding war is also a duty of an navy officer". I thought their duties are how to fight and win a war...
    • I heard, from my university classroom, specialists of international relations, or even taxi drivers' eloquent speeches, how US is laying chess-pieces across the Asia-Pacific to suppress and contain China. So I asked Fallon, is 'containing China' your strategic imperative? The answer was a straight "nonsense". Fallon and his staff laughed and said, this is so ridiculous that it does not worth an explanation
    • I looked at the introduction materials he gave us: the first priority of US PACOM is to curb invasion/aggreesion, then promote regional cooperation, "fighting a war" is only number 4 in his list.
    • After the press conference an officer gave everybody a namecard, telling us to call him for interview in the future. Never thought that it was so easy to get in touch with the US Armed Force. Last time I wanted to call the Defense Ministry of our own country, i couldn't find their web-site or even a phone number for the general line."
    Fallon did a great PR job to the Chinese media, especialy in contrast with the lousy Chinese bureaucracy. One might also note that Fallon was not telling the entire truth of the US agenda, in that there are various efforts among various factions and individuals within the US to suppress and contain China.

    But I believe Fallon on one particular point. That the first priority as an Commander in the Armed Force is to prevent a war from happening. This is not because I think Fallon is an honest person, or have fallen for his charm, even though he demonstrated his gut straightness, professionalism and honesty when he spoke up amid pressure from the arms dealers (update: he played down on his criticsm on the the arms deal nonsense in a newer report, via Wandering to Tamshui, apparently bowing to Bush pressure. So I retract my praise to him. He was straight but he did not have enough gut. But I admire him again for his concluding remark "The big goal is, no military interaction, long-term stability -- you guys solve your problem peacefully. Now what's the smartest way to get there?"). This is because I know it is the only sensible conclusion a responsible commander can arrive at, which is not difficult to understand for anyone who has not skipped Chapter 1 of Sun Zi's Art of War. Fallon understand the spirit of Sun Zi, extremely well. Robet Kaplan and Philsbury do not. That is why Fallon is the PACOM Commander and Kaplan/Philsbury degenrated themselves into pulp fiction writers.

    • (minor correction made to the translation from this site, based on orignal Chinese text below)
    • Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. ( 孙子曰: 兵者,国之大事,死生之地,存亡之道,不可不察也。)
    • In the practical art of war, the first priority is protect the full integrity of our own country; to shatter and destroy enemy is only a second choice. (夫用兵之法,全国为上,破国次之)
    • Hence to fight and win 100% of your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence is achieving your objective without going into a fight. (是故百战百胜,非善之善也;不战而屈人之兵,善之善者也)

    How to win without going into fight? The cold war between 1970s-1990s is a good example. A number of manuevers led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, including

    1. Diplomacy and the China card was used by the West to shift the balance of power in Asia. Nixon and Kissinger successfully curbed the Soviet advance despite the lost of the Vietnam war
    2. The SDI and arms race shifted the "battleground" into a competition in economic productivity
    3. Most important and decisive of all, was the fundamental advantage of the free economic system of the West, which allowed for the leverage in point 2 above

    But this will not work in Asia today. First, China is not Soviet Union. Second, there is no fundamental difference in the economic systems. Third and most importantly, US and China can become partners instead of enemy and there is absolutely no reason for confrontation. Let's compare two scenarios. a) a confrontation which lead to the collapse of PRC and a rebuild under a democratic constituion. b) encourage and assist China on the path to democracy constructively. The end results are the same. But the cost for US is vastly different. While pursuing option (b), would China threaten the "free world"? No. It is widely agreed that it takes at least 30-50 years before China's economic power can be comparable to the US', and that is assuming the same 9.4% growth even when the gap is narrower than today's. After 30-50 years, China's leadership would have changed by at least three to five generations. (This is, if we are pessimistic and ignore the recent development of democracy in the villages)

    Anyone who wants to comment on US or China foreign policy, or China-Taiwan relationship, please read the Sun Zi quotes above. Without a thorough understanding of the importance of these lines, reading Sun Zi will be a complete waste of your time. (Kaplan and his foot soldiers, are you listening?) To understand the highly condensed script "Art of War", one should find a good translation and read it word by word (there aren't many words altogether, less than 6000 chracters in total; writing was much more expensive than JK Rowling's era), and pay particular attention in the ordering of the thesis.

    I am happy for the US, and for mankind that Mr W Bush has chosen Fallon as the PACOM Commander, because he is able to capture the essential spirit of Sun Zi. A good leader in the US is a blessing to the world. Unfortunately such leader is hard to find. But a good leader in the US PACOM is a great blessing for Asia, including China, and the rest of the world. China has Zheng Bijian, he is close to the center but he is only an adviser. I only wish if Japan and the island of Taiwan can find someone like Fallon. Fallon is no suckling pigeon (sorry, I mean "dove"), mind you. But he puts the lives of his soldiers above the interests of lobby groups. That earns my respect.

    Finally, I think I know Fallon's answer to Lin Jun's question. It should be along this line, "The top priority of the US PACOM is to curb aggression and promote regional cooperation/stability. Is containing China or promoting hostility between US and China helping me to achieve this objective?" Given the fact that this is not a zero-sum game, which path would lead to a higher net sum for the US?


    Taishi and Village Impeachment

    A "Bobby Fletcher" alerted me to this great report in the Asiapundit comment fields. (for background of Taishi incidents see ESWN)

    The reported is hosted in a site maintained by pro-democracy leaders in the late 1980s (who fled from China after 1989), including Hu Ping, Han Dongfang, and student leaders in 1989 Feng Congde and Zhou Fengsuo.

    I have been under the impression that Taishi was the first case of village chief impeachment/recall. Then I learned that Lu Banglie himself had done it before (he was elected after impeaching the previous corrupted mayor of Baoyueshi Village in Apr 2004), I suspect there must have been many other cases around China. This report solved the puzzle for us.

    It documented a total of 52 cases, between March 1999 and Dec 2003, of which 30 led to successful recall, the rest mostly lost their cases, or remained unresolved. So the success rate was close to 60%, higher if one rejects the unresolved cases in the data. These are cases that had reached the impeachment voting stage (after gathering 20% voter signatures). The number of all cases (including those like Taishi) has to be higher.

    • Some were recall/impeachement of the village mayor (Zhu-ren主任), some target the whole village leadership "cabinet"
    • Update (Oct 17): According Bainiandouzhi Weekly, I miscounted. Total numner of village:53; 27 success, 3 partial success, 7 failed, 3 request for impeachment rejected, 13 results unknown (1999年3月6日~2003年12月17日;地域跨 度为:黑龙江、浙江、河北、江西、福建、甘肃、山东、海南、江 苏、上海、河南、四川、山西、安徽、贵州、北京、陕西、内蒙古、 宁夏、云南、广东等21个省级行政单位的53个村;其中27个村罢免成 功,3个村罢免局部成功,7个村罢免失败,3个村罢免性质非法,13 个村罢免效果未知)

    This is, however, an incomplete list, as it does not include cases in 2004 and beyond, nor that of Lu Banglie's Baoyueshi Village (Hubei is not studied in this report). Only 21 provinces/municipality/AR were studied, out of a total of 31 in the mainland. The report was completed on Dec 22, 2003.

    Bobby was also kind to comment on the frequency of "only" 52 cases, reminding us that "one must remember impeachment proceedings by definition are exceptional course. Please remember even we in the West don't have it that often (and they rarely pass)." One can debate whether the number of cases being 52 is a low or reasonable frequency for China's total of 66000 villages. But it is a very encouraging number in any measure to me. It is also statistically significant to be used as a basis to try for further reforms.

    Perhaps this has been reported before, so forgive my ignorance. I think it is worthwhile to understand this report and the list of case studies. Given these other cases, I am hopeful and optimistic about Wen's plan to push election to the township level, despite the recent set back in Taishi/Panyu.

    • The Taishi/Yutowuo/Panyu case very likely involves local corruption. Sooner or later the central government is going to take care of them, given the national and international exposure. (Remember the case of Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong?)
    • Taishi is only one case out of more than 52 cases in total (perhaps over 100 by now). Many other villages (e.g. Baoyueshi) were able to get rid of the bad guys, though most had gone through a rough road. "Democracy" was run "better" elsewhere in China.
    • Unfortunately, it is really up to the local government to ensure a fair election (and impeachement). The problem of Yutowuo today is that Yutowuo Township and Panyu City mayors cannot be impeached. That is the real pity. But over time, a rather long period of time, this would be changed.
    • Success rate had been around 60% and there were significant cases with no serious problem or 'chaos', CCP is getting comfortable with what has been going on. What they are afraid of is 'chaos' (Luan 乱). That perhaps could explain why the central government chose to turn a blind eye on the Taishi corruption (because the villagers had staged demonstration out of despair and that was a sign of 'chaos'). They are worried about chaos so much that they would rather tolerate corruption for a while (under their muddled logic).

    There may be divided views within the Hu-Wen leadership about how to interpret the Taishi case, but one out of 100 is not a representative sample of 'chaos'. Had the village mayor not been able to collude with his superior, or the township head been popularly elected and hence responsible to the people, the villagers could have been able to impeach the mayor like many other villages successfully did, via a peaceful and orderly procedure. There won't be demonstration and protest. There won't be the case of mob attack and international embarassment.

    I hope this is what the central government learns. Before election is extended to townships, the best way to prevent 'chaos' is to assign social workers or lawyers to assist the villagers who need help. Social workers/lawyers for 680,000 villages may be costly to keep, but there are volunteers out there, and one lawyer/volunteer can take care of multiple villages. Once election is extended to townships, the economics improves, as there are only 4000 townships in China. A properly elected Township mayor could take care of the villages under his township. In a few more years, they only have to worry about the 666 cities. As Wen jiabao said, "This system [of direct voting] will be realized step by step." And it really CAN be, without causing 'chaos'.


    1. Update on Lu Banglie's physical condition here (via ESWN). I can now say that BJW's first report about Lu's condition was not very accurate.
    2. This old report from USIP (via daveinchina), though lengthy, is also worth reading. It sheds some light on the different case studies (some successes like Lu's village, some failures like Taishi) across China.
    3. (update Oct 31: also this some questions for us to ponder.
    4. Some stories of Lu Banglie here, eg, eg, in Chinese. The path for himself suffered the same beating and setback quite similar to that of Taishi. Update: ESWN has translated one of them. Courtesy to Bobby. Bobby, you should get your own blog.

    Update (Oct 13):

    • According to Bobby, Ian Mayes of the Guardian said it will issue a "Correction" of the first reporting of BJW, and there will be "an op-ed/column on Monday 17th regarding the issue". I do not know what they will say in the op-ed. I personally believe BJW (and Guardian) has learned his lesson and should be given a second chance. If the Guardian is courageous enough to admit its mistake its reputation and brand will only be enhanced, and it should not be viewed as an admission of failure. But I am not sure how 'courageous' they are, as corporations tend cover their own a$$. I hope the Guardian can set an example for the Guangzhou gevernment that sometimes doing the right thing might be more rewarding than continue moving downhill.)

    Update (Oct 17): The Guardian op-ed is out. I hope this settles the controversy and we can all move back to the Taishi cause, I posted a comment on Anti's emotionless/commentless straight translation of the Guardian, he agreed 'totally'. Here is a translation of my comment over his post

    • "I am now feeling sympathetic of poor Benjamin ... please see Simon and Asiapundit's comments. I feel Asiapundit's title is better than yours. Anyhow, let's put a full stop at this paragraph. Taishi and other villages are where our attention should focus on. Western media still believe that there is only one Taishi. I hope you folks can report on the other hundreds of impeachment/recall cases."
    • 我现在反而同情可怜的本了...请看http://simonworld.mu.nu/archives/126513.php, http://www.asiapundit.com/2005/10/guardian_pleads.html. 我认为ASIAPUNDIT的标题比你的好.无论如何,这件事就让他告一段落吧.太石和其他村落才是值得我们注意的地方.四方媒体现在还以为只有一个太石.希望你们能多报道其他上百个成功罢免的案例.

    Update (oct16):

    • For those who can read Chinese, please check out this site: chinaelection.org (via Forest)> There are many (including on-going) case studies in China's democracy lessons. Taishi is only one of them, the success or failure of Taishi (or any single case) is important, but it is also only one among the hundreds or thousands, of cases.
    • Also, many Taishi reporting and discussions in China were not banned, including Netease's special coverage
    • As bingfeng pointed out, "it's dangerous to generalize in china, not only dangerous to generalize from an isolated case like taishi, but also dangerous to generalize from the 52 cases cited by sun bin" We need more stories from other villages.
    • Update (oct17): Here are more stories, courtesy of Bobby again. Each of them may worth at least a 1000, if not 3500 word story.

    original text of the report below:


    2003 年9月8日正式启动,直至2003年12月22日彻底完成之时,总共历时 105天。该报告全长26,704字,系1999年~2003年中国村级罢免状况之民间个案版本,是一份专门研究中国农村基层政权问题的严肃档案。其记录 的历史跨度为:1999年3月6日~2003年12月17日;地域跨度为:黑龙江、浙江、河北、江西、福建、甘肃、山东、海南、江苏、上海、河南、四川、 山西、安徽、贵州、北京、陕西、内蒙古、宁夏、云南、广东等21个省级行政单位的53个村;其中27个村罢免成功,3个村罢免局部成功,7个村罢免失败, 3个村罢免性质非法,13 个村罢免效果未知。交由《民主论坛》首发的本文,是近两年以来我 一点一滴地记录於笔记本中的个案要点,亦是《1999~2003:中国民间村级罢免报告》大部分内容的纲要指南。 《1999~2003:中国民间村级罢免报告》大纲按:1988年,中共保守派彭真组织立法--《中华人民共和国村民委员会组织法》,遭到强烈反对。其 后,该法在人大常委会中以《中华人民共和国村民委员会组织法(试行)》确立。遭到反对并以「试行」的名义来确立的原因有三:(一)认为农民素质低;(二) 认为是搞资产阶级自由化;(三)认为该法律不完善。1998年11月4日,第9届全国人民代表大会常务委员会第5次会议通过《中华人民共和国村民委员会组 织法》,取消了「试行」2字。该法第16条规定:「本村5分之1以上有选举权的村民联名,可以要求罢免村民委员会成员。罢免要求应当提出罢免理由。被提出 罢免的村民委员会成员有权提出申辩意见。村民委员会应当及时召开村民会议,投票表决罢免要求。 罢免村民委员会成员须经有选举权的村民过半数通过。」须特别注明的是:村民会议不能以村民代表会议、村党员会议、村组干部会议、 村民委员会会议或者村党支委会议来取代;村民会议是中国村级会议 当中最为权威、最为庄严的会议,因此又被称作「村民大会」;罢免村委会干部的村民会议被称作「村民罢免会议」。




    9月29日。江苏省灌南县六塘乡二圩村。罢免对象:村委主任潘 永祥。罢免效果:成功。 



    1月6日。内蒙古赤峰市松山区木头沟乡焦家营村。罢免对象:全体村委会干部。罢免效果:未知。  1月8日。山东省淄博市周村区青年路街道办事处桃园村。罢免对象:村委主任郭思忠。罢免效果:失败。 
    3月20日。宁夏平罗县崇岗镇崇富村。罢免对象:村委主任、村会计、村妇女主任。罢免效果:成功。  3月27日。陕西省长安县祥峪乡东石村。罢免对象:村委主任周团结。罢免效果:未知。 
    9 月24日。黑龙江省哈尔滨市道里区群力乡城西村。罢免对象:村委主任张雪荣。罢免效果:未知。  10月20日。浙江省台州市路桥区路桥街道新路村。罢免对象:村委主任郑云达。罢免效果:成功。 10月20日。海南省澄迈县金江镇万昌村。罢免对象: 村委主任陈德仁。罢免效果:未知。  
    11月25日。山东省兴平市店张街道办事处尚志村。罢免对象:村委主任张文建。罢免性质:非法。  11月28日。广东省斗门县斗门区乾务镇虎山村。罢免对象:村党支部书记兼村委主任黄同志。罢免效果:局部成功。