Posts Tagged ‘Chinese schools’

China: Good News and Bad News About Colleges in China

July 31, 2016

By Clifton B. Parker

Chinese Communist Party school in Beijing

Charlotte Lee, a scholar at Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, perceives a new openness to Western-style education at Chinese Communist Party schools such as the Central Party School in Beijing. (Image credit: Tim O’Reilly/Creative Commons)

China’s Communist Party academies are drawing upon new ideas from formerly taboo places like business schools in the United States and Europe and sending delegations to absorb lessons from around the world, a Stanford scholar writes in a new book.

Once viewed as inflexible, China’s party-managed training academies, or “party schools,” are using many of the strategies found in China’s hybrid, state-run private sector, said Charlotte Lee, associate director of the China Program at Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

“As communist parties fell from power in the 1980s and 1990s, there were many predictions of the Chinese Communist Party’s demise,” Lee said in an interview.

A perception exists, she said, that the party was too rigid to remain relevant and in power, given huge economic changes in China and throughout a more globalized world. But adapting is one way that it has managed to dominate for so long.

The Chinese Communist Party has now ruled China for more than six decades.

Signs of change 

“It is true that if you were to look at official party organization charts, many parts of the Chinese Communist Party are unchanged from the party’s early years in power,” Lee said. “Yet it is clear that the party has embraced new ideas and opened up to the world in recent decades.”

The party schools are important, Lee explained, because they are a key set of organizations that exert political control over the knowledge, skills and careers of leaders throughout Chinese society.

In her new book, Training the Party: Party Adaptation and Elite Training in Reform-era China, Lee concludes that those seemingly static parts of the party have adjusted and that it is no longer “revolutionary,” but has become, in its own words, a “learning party.”

Lee’s 264-page work draws on field research, datasets and trips to the party-run academies where party recruits and elites are trained.

Through conversations with people at the academy campuses she visited around the country Lee discovered the extent to which the schools, and the party, were changing.

For example, the schools are using as one of their core teaching methods the case method approach pioneered by Harvard Business School, which Lee described as a “force of inspiration” for the students.

As a sign of another change, Lee noted that the schools, once almost shrouded in secrecy from the rest of society, are now renting out their office parks to other organizations as a way to raise revenue.

“They are opening up in more than one way,” Lee said, adding that the overall process began in the 1980s and accelerated in 2005 when China established state-of-the-art executive leadership academies that required a more legitimate educational approach.

Organizational machinery

The success of the Chinese economy and market, as well as the rush for revenue and status by many people and organizations in the country, spurred the academies to change. Lee said the party schools are dynamic and entrepreneurial in the way they seek out new student populations and craft new programs, both educational and political.

“This shows how the party’s organizational machinery has been more nimble than some would have predicted,” she said.

Yet to be seen is whether the revised party-school approach is enough to turn around the larger Chinese Communist Party or deal with the problem of rampant political corruption in the country.

“There’s some evidence of new organizational thinking in the party schools, but it is unclear whether this will help with resolving China’s corruption problem or spark genuine democratic reform,” Lee said.

While eight other political parties technically exist in China, there is no true opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Lee began her book while a political science doctoral student at Stanford.

Looking ahead, she is studying how China’s education landscape is evolving and how China is constructing new international organizations, like the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, that reflect its long-term global ambitions.

She asks, “To what degree might these organizations challenge or supplement the existing global order and how might the U.S. respond intelligently?”

 Media Contacts

Charlotte P. Lee, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center: (650) 725-6445, cplee@stanford.edu
Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/2015/07/16/academy-china-business-071615/

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Study Finds Chinese Students Excel in Critical Thinking. Until College.

BEIJING — Chinese primary and secondary schools are often derided as grueling, test-driven institutions that churn out students who can recite basic facts but have little capacity for deep reasoning.

A new study, though, suggests that China is producing students with some of the strongest critical thinking skills in the world.

The unexpected finding could recast the debate over whether Chinese schools are doing a better job than American ones, complementing previous studies showing Chinese students outperforming their global peers in reading, math and science.

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Malaysia: Government of Race Based Parties Spells Trouble Ahead

October 1, 2015

By Shannon Teoh
Malaysia Correspondent
Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR • The “red shirt” rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur not so much intensified already fractious race relations in Malaysia as brought to light the insecurities felt by the many Malaysians who identify  themselves ethnically, whether they be the majority Malays or minority Chinese and Indians.

Indeed, it was these insecurities that allowed the embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak – embroiled in a financial scandal concerning huge sums of money that flowed into his personal bank accounts – to play the race card, by consorting with the red shirt rally organisers, to gain a lifeline out of his troubles.

The tens of thousands of Malays at Sept 16’s United Citizens’ Gathering – mostly wearing Malay Dignity Gathering red T-shirts instead – had gathered in Kuala Lumpur to galvanise Malays against a supposed plot by the Chinese to usurp Malay political power.

Malaysians gathering for the “red shirt” rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur on Sept 16 to galvanise Malays against a supposed plot by the Chinese to usurp Malay political power. PHOTO: REUTERS

The narrative of the red shirt rally organisers goes that the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) – a largely Chinese outfit – was using a rally last month in the capital, organised by electoral reforms group Bersih, to force the resignation of Datuk Seri Najib.

The proof, they say, was in the majority Chinese turnout at the Bersih rally, never mind that any realistic replacement of the Premier before a general election would have to be made by Umno, the largest party in Parliament. It is part of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition that also includes Chinese-based party Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Indian-based Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

In speeches by rally leaders, the banners displayed and racial slurs uttered by participants, such as “Chinese pigs”, the red shirts’ message was that Malay supremacy should not be challenged.

“There are those that ridicule Islam as Malaysia’s religion. We don’t want Malays to be under people’s feet but we want Malays to remain as masters of this land,” said Mr Jamaludin Yusuf, president of welfare group Pekida, which is better known for its links to often violent individuals acting in the interest of Malay rights.

Weighing in with his own race-loaded comments was Mr Najib who, at an event two days after the red shirt rally, said: “The Malays have rights too… and we can rise up when our leaders are insulted, condemned and embarrassed.”

Governed by race-based parties that have been plying ethnocentric policies for decades, Malaysia simply cannot avoid the question of race, which must necessarily be read with the subtext “Ketuanan Melayu (Malay dominance or sovereignty)”.

Many Malays see themselves as the original community and “owners” of Malaysia, and only grudgingly admit indigenous tribes as co-claimants. But there is a clear economic gap between them and the Chinese who arrived under British rule beginning in the 19th century, a situation that has improved but persists until now, despite growing Malay political power.

Indeed, the argument for greater Malay political control was based on the idea that it was only through such an instrument that the economic imbalance could be corrected, leading to an increasing number of pro-Malay policies and agencies in government that are justified as part of the inalienable rights of Malays, making political discussion of these policies practically taboo.

At the centre of the racial discourse here is the politically sensitive issue of “rights”. The defence of Malay rights has gone on for nearly half a century, and yet “Malay rights” is still an amorphous idea, just like the ethnic-based rights of other groups.

To be fair, many Malaysians do not identify themselves along the various pillars of “rights” that some feel are inalienable to their race. But for those who do, they bristle when questioned, let alone challenged, on them.

For the Malays who identify themselves strongly as such, economic and religious privileges are sacred, despite none of these being enshrined constitutionally, as often claimed, most recently by key red shirt figure and Umno divisional chief Jamal Yunus, who said “my racism follows the Constitution”.

But the Federal Constitution does not mention “Malay rights”, and instead merely safeguards the special position of the Malays and indigenous peoples – the much-used term “Bumiputera (Princes of the Land)” to describe them is also not mentioned in the Constitution – while also taking into account the “legitimate interests” of other communities. This special treatment includes quotas for public sector jobs, scholarships, tertiary enrolment (introduced in a 1971 amendment) and business licences.

Many pro-Malay privileges were introduced only after the racial riots of May 13, 1969, an episode which still haunts the country today. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein – Mr Najib’s father – implemented the National Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971 to correct economic imbalances by redistributing national wealth via pro-Bumiputera regulations such as setting aside 30 per cent equity for public-listed firms as well as private ones operating in “strategic” sectors.

But even though it was to have ended in 1990, these policies – which in practice often leave out non-Malay Bumiputeras – have not only continued but expanded to other areas of life, such as discounts and quotas for housing, preferential treatment for lucrative government procurement deals and, according to the US State Department, other “opaque” preferences and practices within the administration.

The government has argued that these affirmative actions must continue because Bumiputeras are still not adequately empowered as the targeted 30 per cent equity in business has not been achieved. So pervasive is this protectionism that pro-Malay elements now refer to them as “rights” even when there are no laws or binding agreements outlining them as such.

Just as irrepressible is the growth of privileges associated to Islam, including state funding for the religion and even the restriction of other religious practices, leading many to argue that the “legitimate interests” of other communities have been invaded.

But other communities also hold fast to “rights”, not least that of vernacular education, a hot-button topic for the Chinese. MCA leaders, unable to restrain their Umno colleagues in the ruling coalition from endorsing the red shirt rally, took to lodging police reports against participants who called for the abolishment of Chinese schools.

Advocates insist on a universal right to “mother tongue” education in Mandarin despite most of the community not being able to claim the dialect as part of their ancestry, having adopted it only in recent decades. But as eminent law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi pointed out, there is no constitutional protection for vernacular education.

When caught out on the lack of constitutional basis, “rights” defenders tend to then cite an unwritten “social contract” between Malaysia’s founding fathers. But this is a difficult and often divisive concept, with each corner seemingly in possession of a different draft of the contract.

The good news, perhaps, is that contracts can be renegotiated for mutual benefit. The bad news is that nobody seems ready to do so.

A survey by independent polling company Merdeka Centre in 2012 found that just over a third of Malaysians believed that there was “sincere and friendly ethnic unity”, down from 54 per cent five years prior to it. Respondents also admitted to trusting other races less than before.

According to Merdeka Centre, such mistrust is most likely due to the intensified discourse in the media on race and religious politics as well as the impact of incidents that have taken place since 2008 which included arson attacks on places of worship, public debate over school textbooks and controversial statements by public personalities.

But perhaps the issue might be forced, once pockets start to hurt.

Corporate captains tend to steer clear of controversy but Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, boss of budget airline AirAsia, cautioned an economic forum last week that Malaysia’s positive business climate would unravel if the racial divide widens.

In response, International Trade and Investment Minister Mustapa Mohamed, who is also an Umno state chief, acknowledged that the corporate world was concerned over whether race relations can be “resolved once and for all” and called for stakeholders to “go back to the drawing board”.

There is no clearer drawing board than the Constitution. Pressing the reset button won’t be a simple task, but the alternative – negotiating increasingly bitter racial grudges – is becoming a negative, rather than simply a zero sum, game.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline ”Red shirt’ rally brings out Malaysians’ insecurities’.
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China micromanages Tibet, floods it with money to woo locals

September 30, 2015

By ARITZ PARRA
The Associated Press

LHASA, China (AP) — Ji Yunpeng misses hotpot dinners with his wife and daughter back in Beijing and fights insomnia caused by the high altitude in the Tibetan capital by playing computer games, and, occasionally, studying Tibetan Buddhism.

“It’s just out of pure intellectual curiosity,” he said, aware that genuine religious interest would be a breach of discipline in China’s nominally atheist Communist Party.

Ji is in Lhasa on a three-year loan from the Beijing municipal government to oversee the school curriculum in Tibetan classrooms. In return, he gets a double salary and a shortcut up the party ladder. Nearly 6,500 civil servants like him have been dispatched to manage hefty budgets and shape Tibet’s modernization.

They are the human face of top-down development that has poured more than $100 billion dollars into the region since 1952. Critics say that Beijing’s obsession with social stability also has led to widespread human right abuses. But as incomes finally begin to increase across the Tibetan countryside, Chinese authorities are hopeful they can dispel international criticism over their rule in Tibet while winning the hearts of Tibetans and pulling some of their loyalty away from the exiled Dalai Lama.

File:Qingzang railway Train 01.jpg

Above: China’s high speed train brings hundreds of thousands of Chinese into troubled Tibet. Not Yaks grazing: China says those are destroying the environment and China is there to save the planet.

“The strategy for Tibet is now shifting from the overall kind of repression that we have seen in the past to actually moving toward luring sections of the community and trying to work with those who cooperate with the authorities,” Tibet researcher Tsering Shakya said in an interview from University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

For most Tibetans in exile, the region has been unlawfully occupied by China since it was overrun by the People’s Liberation Army in 1951, and no material gains justify Beijing’s repression. But even skeptics like Shakya acknowledge that “without its intervention, the disparities between the development in Tibet and in China would be even greater.”

In a sign of new confidence, authorities this month invited a handful of foreign media organizations, including The Associated Press, on a tightly scripted visit to showcase Tibet’s development, timed to the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

STRINGS-ATTACHED DEVELOPMENT

Ji oversees the $40 million dollar Lhasa-Beijing Experimental Middle School, where many of the 2,500 students are from rural Tibet. Acting as deputy to the head of Lhasa’s education bureau, Ji explains how the pupils are entitled to nine years of free schooling.

As government minders watched, a Tibetan teacher wrote in Tibetan on a chalkboard crowned by the national flag, the Communist Party emblem and a portrait of President Xi Jinping. School officials explained that all subjects are taught in Mandarin, China’s official language, but that the curriculum includes mandatory Tibetan language.

In Lhasa, Beijing has also paid for housing projects, hospitals, an amusement park, an $80 million stadium and the Tibet Yak Museum, honoring the “hairy cow” of the grasslands.

“Beijing and Lhasa are still like two worlds apart,” Ji says. “But in a place like this, where things are still backward, there is a sense of achievement in every step forward.”

Robert Barnett, leading academic of Tibetan studies at Columbia University in New York, questions whether the two-decade-old policy is truly benefiting Tibetans. Economic gains of the development have for decades gone largely to migrants from China’s ethnic Han minority, who make up only 8 percent of the Tibet’s 3.2 million inhabitants. Only recently, he said, have they started to trickle down to the countryside.

“If you pour in money in that amount to an area that is fragile in its ecosystem and social composition and you just remove barriers for migration, you attract income seekers, with a huge negative effect and a domination of the economy,” Barnett said.

In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Dronjie, 69, sits in his home near two posters displaying the images of current and former leaders of China in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. As incomes finally begin to increase across the Tibetan countryside, Chinese authorities are hopeful they can dispel international criticism over their rule in Tibet while winning the hearts of Tibetans and pulling some of their loyalty away from the exiled Dalai Lama. (AP Photo/Aritz Parra)

 

MOVING IN FROM GRASSLANDS

Perfectly identical “new socialist villages” have sprouted in the countryside of the Tibetan plateau during the past decade, compelling former nomads to take on a sedentary lifestyle, but also giving them immaculate two-floor villas with running water, latrines and biogas cookers.

Dawa, a 55 year-old herder resettled in Lhoka prefecture’s Gongkar county, proudly showed visiting officials and journalists how each member of the family now has a separate room. “Even in my dreams I never thought of having a house like this,” he said.

When repeatedly prompted about what he misses from his old life, Dawa paused and stared at the officials seated in his living room before answering.

“We have become selfish,” he said finally. “Now that living standards have improved, eating a piece of meat doesn’t make me as happy as eating a potato once did.”

Tibetan girls wearing cosmetics prepare for their performance on the June 1 Children’s Day Gala — much of it for tourists now….

THE INFLUX OF TOURISTS

Looking ahead, the government hopes to develop the mineral water industry, wool garment weaving workshops and factories of byproducts of traditional Tibetan medicine that will directly benefit the locals. Tourism development is, however, the biggest priority.

With plans to go from 15.5 million tourists in 2014 — five times Tibet’s population and most of them Chinese — to 20 million in the next five years, the industry already is transforming Lhasa’s landscape. Four huge pyramids of concrete and glass, the skeleton of a 2,000 room five-star resort, are joining new shopping malls, karaoke parlors and theme parks.

Visitors sweep through chambers of the labyrinthine Potala palace and compete for space with local pilgrims at the iconic Jokhang temple.

“There is a great deal of unhappiness and resentment among Tibetans over the way their culture and religion is being exploited,” said spokesman Alistair Currie of the London-based activist group Free Tibet, which is campaigning against foreign hotel chains in the autonomous region.

Read the rest:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20150930/as–china-buying_tibets_loyalty-0f2d307669.html

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When we first visited Tibet I thought we were sure to be arrested after we asked, “Where are the Tibetans. All we’ve seen are Chinese.” The tour director told us all the herders were sent to the cities because the yaks had almost destroyed the grassland due to over grazing. “We had to preserve the environment. You understand?” I said yes, I understood. Believing was something else.

Peace and Freedom Ed.


Above: Tibetans graze their yaks in the grasslands of the high Tibetan plateau in the county of Naqu, Tibet, China in this Thursday July 6, 2006 photo. China forced nomadic Tibetan herders to settle in towns to clear land for development, leaving many unable to earn a living, a human rights groups said. China claims the Tibetan tribesmen are “defoliating Tibet with their Yak grazing.” See for yourself how evil it looks.

China Still Fans The Flames of Hatred For Japan — 70 Years After World War II Ended

August 30, 2015

The Associated Press

BEIJING — By administrative order, dramas about resisting the Japanese wartime enemy will fill Chinese TV channels this week as China celebrates — including with a massive military parade — the victory over Japan 70 years ago.

Combined with pervasive patriotic education that goes to great lengths in detailing Japanese atrocities, the order on programming from Sept. 1-5 ensures that the Chinese public — generation after generation — always remembers the country’s past humiliation as well as the bitter but valiant efforts to resist the Japanese.

“We are reminded of the war against Japan so constantly that I have developed an inherent antipathy toward Japan,” said Cong Yuting, a 26-year-old teacher from the northeastern city of Dalian.

Anti-Japanese sentiments in China are never far from the surface and have broken out in the open when tensions between Beijing and Tokyo fly high, even as Chinese visit Japan in droves, buy Japanese products and embrace Japanese anime and fashion.

Visitors to the Memorial Museum of Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression look at exhibits of Japanese wartime atrocities in Beijing Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Combined with pervasive patriotic education that goes to great lengths in detailing Japanese atrocities, Chinese authorities have ordered TV stations to fill their channels with dramas about resisting the Japanese wartime enemy from Sept. 1-5 to ensure that the Chinese public – generation after generation – always remembers the country’s past humiliation as well as the bitter but valiant efforts to resist the Japanese. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Why so much anger, after so much time? It’s complicated.

Japan’s apologies — perceived to be less than wholehearted — and its leaders’ ambiguous stances are often blamed. Recent moves by Japanese leaders to change the country’s constitution to allow Japan’s military a greater role have added to China’s perception of Japan as militaristic and unrepentant.

But Beijing’s propaganda machine also has been a factor, overshadowing in many Chinese minds the fact that for more than a half-century after the war, Japan has been one of the world’s more pacifist countries, not to mention generous to China with aid, especially infrastructure loans in past decades.

“Constant brainwashing since day one in the education and mass media systems has played a key role in building and keeping alive these strong anti-Japanese sentiments,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. “Larger segments of the Chinese society seem to really believe that the Japanese are still very militarist and nationalistic.”

Patriotic education is mandated in Chinese schools, and students often go on field trips to sites highlighting atrocities of the Japanese invaders.


Visitors walk over Japanese weapons and a flag displayed at the Memorial Museum of Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in Beijing Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Combined with pervasive patriotic education that goes to great lengths in detailing Japanese atrocities, Chinese authorities have ordered TV stations to fill their channels with dramas about resisting the Japanese wartime enemy from Sept. 1-5 to ensure that the Chinese public – generation after generation – always remembers the country’s past humiliation as well as the bitter but valiant efforts to resist the Japanese. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The propaganda is intended to strengthen one-party rule, enlist solidarity against a common external boogeyman and distract the public from thorny domestic issues, Cabestan said.

“The party unites the Chinese society under its banner and uses nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiments as glue around it and a diversion from other problems,” he said. “The deepening economic difficulties have contributed and will contribute to intensifying the magnitude and decibels of the current anti-Japanese propaganda.”

The focus by China’s Communist Party leadership on the resistance against the Japanese generally glosses over the fact that for much of the 20th century, the Communists were fighting against the country’s Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, and that Chiang was the Chinese leader recognized by the Allies fighting the Japanese as the military commander in China during World War II.

The Chinese government has ordered a flood of TV programs, films, variety shows, books and special events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the war victory against Japan — usually playing up the role of Communist troops — while banning broadcasters from airing entertainment programs in the first five days of September.

The culmination of events comes on Thursday with a massive military parade through the heart of Beijing. China marks Sept. 3 — the day after Japan formally surrendered to the Allies in the Pacific aboard a U.S. naval ship in 1945 — as the day of victory over the Japanese.

For many years already, China’s television screens have been filled with anti-Japanese dramas, which not only receive government funding but also are exempt from quotas on the numbers of programs per genre, and are more likely to pass state censors. They also have a ready and loyal audience, making this genre popular with TV producers looking for safe investments.

Gearing up for this fall’s mandated war theme, most crews in China’s film city of Hengdian were filming war dramas featuring the resistance against the Japanese. State media have reported that more than 50 war dramas are planned for this year.

Beijing also has ordered cinemas throughout China to heavily promote war films in the first 10 days of September, and has ordered that 100 books and 20 audio products with war themes be published in September.

In 2012, when China-Japan tensions over a chain of contested islands in East China Sea boiled over, Beijing allowed anti-Japanese protests throughout China, which briefly included demonstrators hurling rocks at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. State media helped fan the anti-Japanese sentiments.

In daily conversations and in pop culture, the Chinese are used to dismissing Japanese as “devils” and calling the country — condescendingly — “Little Japan.”

Some Chinese scholars insist that it is Japan’s failure to adequately apologize for its brutal colonization of much of China starting in 1930s and its wartime brutality that is the core reason for continued anti-Japanese sentiments.

“As an aggressor, Japan has not apologized, so how can you expect China, as the victim, to be tolerant and forgiving?” said Huang Dahui, director of the East Asia Studies Center at Beijing-based Renmin University. “How can the victim have closure when the perpetuator has not expressed genuine remorse?”

Huang said the Chinese are not inherently anti-Japanese, and that their nationalism is only triggered when China is provoked. “It’s only a response,” Huang said.

Cong — the schoolteacher — now lives in Japan after having followed her husband to Tokyo on a job assignment. Cong teaches Japanese how to speak Chinese and has started to see Japanese people as disinterested in politics.

Asked if China has gone overboard in constantly propagating war history, Cong paused and said, “It’s hard to say. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. If we don’t do it, those born in the 1990s, 2000s or even those in 2010s won’t know this part of history.”

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By Richard Sisk, Military.com

China spent last week excoriating Japan for twisting the history of World War II while spreading distortions of its own on the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.

Even China’s Global Times, a tabloid owned by the People’s Daily Communist Party newspaper, said China had gone too far by putting photos of an actor portraying Mao Tse-tung (now Mao Zedong) on posters for a movie on the Cairo Conference of 1943.

Mao was not in Cairo for the meeting on war strategy with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill but his arch-enemy, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, was.

The Global Times quoted art critic Sima Pingbang as saying that “By featuring Mao, who was not present at the meeting, but excluding Chiang, the poster shows no respect for history nor to Mao.”

China was playing up Mao’s exploits during World War II ahead of the Sept. 3 military parade and commemoration of what is known in Beijing as the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.”

However, most historians say it was Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT) forces that bore the brunt of the fighting against Japan while Mao saved his troops for the 1945-49 civil war, which ended with Chiang fleeing to Formosa (Taiwan).

The Cairo film was one of more than 10 new movies,12 TV dramas, 20 documentaries and 183 war-themed stage performances in China leading up to Sept. 3, Reuters reported.

The military parade in Tiananmen Square has posed a dilemma for world leaders unwilling to attend a display of China’s military might yet also unwilling to offend a world economic power.

China, Beijing, Military, SoldiersYepoka Yeebo / Business Insider

China’s military parade will take place in the historic Tiananmen Square.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would attend but the U.S., Britain, India and others have yet to commit. It was also not known if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been sent an invitation.

Last Friday, as Japan marked the 70th anniversary, the conservative and nationalist Abe expressed “deep remorse” for Japan’s actions but did not make an apology of his own. He also said that future generations of Japanese should not have to apologize.

The following day, the 81-year-old Emperor Akihito, whose father Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender, expressed his own sorrow over the war in what some Japanese commentators saw as a rebuke to Abe.

“Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse over the last war, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” Akihito said.

A commentary in China’s official Xinhua news agency charged that the “revisionist” Abe had “shied away from assuming responsibility for launching a war of aggression upon other countries, saying Japan tried to ‘overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force.'”

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombing of the city, at Nagasaki's Peace Park in Nagasaki, western Japan, August 9, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombing of the city, at Nagasaki’s Peace Park in Nagasaki. Reuters photo

The US left its response to National Security Council spokesman Ned Price who said in a statement that “We welcome Prime Minister Abe’s expression of deep remorse for the suffering caused by Japan during the World War II era, as well as his commitment to uphold past Japanese government statements on history.”

“We also value Prime Minister Abe’s assurances of Japan’s intent to expand upon its contributions to international peace and prosperity in the years ahead.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/china-is-distorting-history-ahead-of-its-big-world-war-ii-commemoration-2015-8#ixzz3kJSZxz9l

Movie poster for the Chinese film “The Cairo Declaration.”

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How much do we really know about China’s stockmarket ? And the way the Chinese think? We know enough now to start speaking the truth…

August 28, 2015

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We know nothing. Photo: Reuters/Aly Song

By Associate Editor, Digital

Over the past couple of weeks the financial world has been totally fixated on the gyrations in China’s Shanghai Composite. And rightly so. That market has been suffering alarming declines and stomach churning volatility.

China is the world’s second biggest economy, and Australia’s biggest trading partner. There are fears that if its stockmarket continues to fall, it could put the country’s entire financial system at risk.

There is a lot of conjecture and misinformation about what’s actually causing this. But this week’s turmoil raises a simpler question:  How much do we really know about the inner workings of what is the world’s key market right now?

If I told you the biggest company in the US was Apple, and the best performing stock on its main index this year was Netflix, you’d probably shrug and move on. But did you know that the biggest company listed in China is an oil company (PetroChina)? Or that the best performer on China’s benchmark CSI 300 index this year is a budget airline called Spring Airlines?

Or how about the fact that, despite China’s economy being roughly six times the size of Australia’s, there are only over a handful of companies listed there bigger than our own corporate titans, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and BHP (both worth roughly $120 billion)?

Be honest. You probably didn’t know any of this. So is that a problem?

Credit Suisse equity strategist Hasan Tevfik says it’s not. Ordinary foreigners like you and me can’t just invest directly in China’s stockmarket. Only big funds, like Platinum Asset Management, who are accredited by the Chinese government can. The Chinese stock market “is not going to have a direct effect on our equity market in the same way the US market does,” he says. “It might affect Chinese consumer confidence and it might affect the [Australian] currency, but it’s all secondary effects.”

The convulsions in sharemarkets around the world this week suggest many investors beg to differ, fearing a downturn in China will trickle down to the global economy.

Interestingly, some of China most prominent global companies, particularly in technology, aren’t even listed in mainland China

Some, like e-commerce giant Alibaba or search company Bidu, are listed in the US. Others, like Tencent, which owns the rapidly growing messaging platform, WeChat (and has recently been fighting with Uber) are listed in Hong Kong.

The biggest companies in the US are not just household brand names, but the yardsticks around which Australian investors use to value their domestic stock holdings. “The US is the heart of the world equity market, if you are a global portfolio manager, you are always comparing everything back to to the US. Everyone knows those quite stocks well” Tevfik explains.

That this is going to change is not in doubt. The only question is how long it takes. “The Chinese equity market is going to open up and its going to grow, although its hard to imagine it now,” says Tevfik.

But for now China’s stockmarket, like much of its economy, remains a bit of a black box.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/china/how-much-do-we-really-know-about-chinas-stockmarket–20150827-gj99y1.html#ixzz3k6124Iw9
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

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Why Parrot Beijing’s Line? China has crafted a phantasy explanation that justifies everything Chinese. But more and more, fewer and fewer believe it….

By

I was to write a speech for a school meeting, my teacher told me, that “condemns the hegemonic behavior of Western powers that had suppressed China for centuries.”

That evening I labored amid piles of newspapers, composing the speech by stringing together phrases lifted from front-page headlines.

“Building socialism in China,” I repeated to myself, “is the inevitable outcome of the course of modern Chinese history.”

Last winter, when I turned on the television in Beijing to watch a popular speech contest organized by a state channel, I saw a high school friend standing on stage. With a solemn expression, he delivered a speech accusing Western media of waging a “cultural war” against China that “attacks the confidence and dignity of the Chinese people.” In the next round, he donned a Mongolian robe and declared his heartfelt wish for the long lasting of China’s territorial unity.

Read it all:

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Our obsession with China says much about our parochial fears

June 1, 2015

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China: Students review at No 1 Middle School in Gu’an county, North China’s Hebei province, on May 6, 2014. China’s annual national college entrance examination will be held in early June. (Photo / Xinhua)

By James Palmer
The Washington Post

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BEIJING

Whenever I want to be cheered up about the future of my adopted country, I turn to American pundits. The air here might be deadly, the water undrinkable, the Internet patchy and the culture strangled, but I can always be reassured that China is beating America at something, whether it’s clean energy, high-speed rail, education or even the military.

Over the past decade, American audiences have become accustomed to lectures about China, like a schoolboy whose mother compares him with an overachieving classmate. “That used to be us,” Thomas Friedman writes, citing the “impressive” Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center (thrown up in a few months) as an example of China’s greatness and glacial U.S. construction projects as an example of America’s decline. China is “kicking our butts” because the United States is “a nation of wusses,” according to then-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who in 2010 lamented his state’s inability to handle snow.

Rendell ignored the time snow paralyzed southern China in 2008, stranding millions of people, cutting off water supplies to major cities and killing dozens. Friedman ignored the buildings that collapsed like a soft pile of dofu across Sichuan in an earthquake that same year because they were rapidly erected by crooked contractors. I’m not talking here about arguments over China itself, like the dueling predictions of magical reform or sudden collapse so brilliantly dissected in James Mann’s “The China Fantasy,” or about the delusional fears of Chinese plots from analysts like Michael Pillsbury . The people telling these tales aren’t interested in complexities or, really, in China. They’re making domestic arguments and expressing parochial fears. Their China isn’t a real place but a rhetorical trope, less a genuine rival than a fairy-tale bogeyman.

For Chinese residents, daily life is a constant reminder of both how far the country has come and how far it has to go. One morning recently I went to the coffee shop at the end of my central Beijing alley for a superb latte, where the owner teasingly chastised me, as he has before, for paying with cash like some peasant rather than with my mobile phone through the WeChat Wallet service. That evening, I came home to one of our small compound’s regular power failures, and I wrote this in the dark on a laptop battery and a neighboring building’s thankfully unshielded WiFi signal. In heavy rain, our alley becomes a swimming pool, and even newly built Beijing streets disappear under a foot of water because the drainage is so bad; in storms in 2012, people drowned in cars stuck under bridges.

China’s mega-projects are often awesome, but they’re also often costly and corrupt. The more than 10,000 miles of recently built high-speed rail came in well over the original $300 billion budget, and all but a few lines run at a loss. The process of creating them was so crooked that the Ministry of Railways ended up broken into three parts and most of the top officials ended up in jail. It’s understandable why visitors, especially those who don’t stray beyond the metropolises, might be overwhelmed. What’s not forgivable is how rarely pundits try to look further, content with an initial vision of glittering skyscrapers and swish airports that can be conveniently shoehorned into whatever case they’re trying to make.

And because China is so vast, its successes can be attributed to whatever your pet cause is. Do you oppose free markets and privatization, like John Ross, former economic policy adviser for the city of London? Then China’s success is because of the role of the state. Do you favor free markets, like the libertarian Cato Institute? Then China’s success is because of its opening up. Are you an environmentalist?

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China is working on huge green-energy projects. Are you an energy lobbyist? China’s building gigantic pipeline projects. Are you an enthusiast for the Protestant work ethic, like historian Niall Ferguson, who describes it as one of his “killer apps” for civilizations? Then credit China’s manufacturing boom to its 40 million Protestants — even though they’re less than 5 percent of its 1.3 billion people.

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With a massively changing country, correlation and causation are easily confused. China’s boom years in the 2000s, for instance, correspond nicely with an explosion in the number of pet dogs; perhaps some canine enthusiast is even now explaining how this is evidence that Bo, not Barack, should be making policy.

There are fields, such as education, where China’s supposed achievements are almost pure illusion. Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) statistics, which show China topping the lists in reading, math and science, are often cited by Common Core advocates in the United States and by proponents of traditional teaching methods in Britain, such as former education minister Michael Gove. Yet these PISA statistics cover just an elite group of Shanghai schools, where entry depends on bribery and string-pulling. In the rest of the country, classes average 50 students, only a third of rural children make it to high school, and I’ve found innumeracy to be just as common as in the United States.

This takes about a half-hour of research to discover, or five minutes of conversation with anyone who went to an ordinary Chinese school. But the Western educators and politicians who fawn over China’s schools can’t be bothered with the realities of crumbling rural classrooms, students forced to bribe teachers to get a seat in front, or the mind-numbing “politics” classes that kids and adults alike sleep through. China is a lead-in anecdote to their arguments, not somewhere they’re actually interested in.

Purveying China fantasies in the service of your own vision isn’t new. Voltaire pioneered the technique 2 1 / 2 centuries ago, depicting a government of refined Confucian deists in counterpoint to the barbarities and superstitions of Europe. He took this portrayal from the missionary letters of his archenemies, the Jesuits, who themselves sought to triumph in theological argument by portraying China as moral, civilized and awaiting the Gospel. Yet the priests, working on the ground in Peking, had a greater interest in the tense and complicated political and intellectual rivalries of Qing China than the philosopher did; for him, reality was a far second to argument.

In Voltaire’s era, perhaps a few hundred Europeans had spent time in China, and the country was an arduous, months-long journey away. In the 1960s and 1970s, the few Westerners allowed into the country were almost inevitably fellow travelers with Maoism, led by the nose by guides who were trained to parrot the triumphs of socialism and who were happy to regurgitate the pap they had been fed to foreign audiences. Today there are tens of thousands of Americans in China, and millions of Chinese in the United States, but the level of nonsense seems to have only marginally diminished.

Finding China’s realities can be hard simply because lying is so common here, whether it’s fraudulent government data, false ambulances or tainted baby formula. The collapse of social trust as a result of decades of Maoism, followed by a get-rich-first ethos, has made honesty a rare quality. With no external controls from a free media or civil society, Potemkinism is an everyday skill across the country, whether directed at outside investors or official inspectors.
Some claims move from the exaggerated into the outright sinister. Take University of New Mexico professor Geoffrey Miller, who has written about the nation’s one-child-rule exceptions, which mostly benefit underdeveloped rural areas and ethnic minorities, not the elite. Miller claims that China is engaged in a long-term eugenics program to increase its national IQ, and that the United States must copy this or fall behind. No such program exists, although it’s true that China’s disability laws drew upon the language of early-20th-century eugenics as late as the 1990s before advocates campaigned for changes. Miller’s particularly ugly arguments mix a projected fantasy of Chinese super-babies with a dubious pro-eugenics agenda; in that way, they are not that different from the essential refrain of others: “China is beating us, and to succeed we must become like them.”

The damage done by such arguments goes beyond their individual cases. They reinforce the seductive, and false, notion of efficient authoritarianism. According to this vision, Washington dawdles because of special interests or democratic debate while Beijing, directed smoothly from the top, drives forward to the future.

Invisible in this is the massive role of vested interests in China and their ability to block or divert reform efforts, the contentions between local governments and the center, the authorities’ constant and fearful swinging between cracking down on and pandering to public opinion, and the intense and sometimes murderous politicking behind the scenes. Pandering to state power is exceptionally dangerous at a time when democratic states such as Turkey and Hungary increasingly turn toward Chinese- or Russian-inspired models of centralization and oppression.

In actuality, one of the great strengths of the Chinese system over the past 35 years has been cautious experimentation, from health-care reform to open markets, in a few villages; then, if successful, ramping projects up to the provincial level; then to a national scale. This is how private farming began in 1979. Some of China’s ambitious projects have been genuine successes, some abysmal failures, but most have the mixed and complicated legacies of any political scheme. If we praise Beijing for the wrong reasons, we miss the lessons it is actually trying to learn.

And when we treat China as a fantasyland of instruction for ourselves, we end up ignoring the Chinese. Like Voltaire’s mandarins or the happy peasants of Maoist propaganda, they cease to be real people and become perfect puppets deployed for rhetorical ends. The Chinese can be just as dumb, lazy and pig-headed as anyone else. They can also be just as smart, determined and empathic. They deserve better than to be reduced to examples.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-american-pundits-china-isnt-a-country-its-a-fantasyland/2015/05/29/24ba60e0-0431-11e5-a428-c984eb077d4e_story.html?tid=pm_opinions_pop_b&hpid=z6

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Twitter: @BeijingPalmer

James Palmer is a writer in Beijing. His most recent book is “The Death of Mao.”

Hong Kong: China Threatens “Mandatory Patriotic Education” — But in the Meantime, HK Teaches Freedom of Speech, Civil Disobedience and Human Rights

February 13, 2015

Mandatory Liberal Studies Course Covers Topics That Are Taboo in Mainland China

“You can’t brainwash students now, they know all about what’s happening in China.”

By Isabella Steger
The Wall Street Journal

Students take part in small group discussions in a liberal studies class in Hong Kong.   
Students take part in small group discussions in a liberal studies class in Hong Kong. Photo: Lo Yat-ko

HONG KONG—High-school students in this city’s mandatory liberal studies class tackle issues that are strictly taboo in mainland Chinese schools—press freedom, civil disobedience and the rule of law.

“The biggest impact of liberal studies is that it encourages students to be much more aware of current affairs,” said Lo Yat-ko, a 30-year-old liberal studies teacher.

That has become a big problem for some officials in Hong Kong and Beijing, who fear that the unfettered freedom to discuss such topics in Hong Kong’s classrooms has helped breed a generation of unruly and unpatriotic youths, and helped inspire the so-called Occupy pro-democracy protests that shook this semiautonomous Chinese city for 10 weeks late last year.

In the aftermath of those student-led protests, an education debate is once again brewing in Hong Kong. In November, the city’s Education Bureau launched a three-month review of the city’s school curriculum, the results of which will be announced in July.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his annual policy address last month that the government would change the current high-school curriculum, with an aim to “reinforce students’ interest in and understanding of Chinese history and culture.” Mr. Leung said the government will also subsidize students to participate in exchange programs with schools on the mainland.

His comments come two years after the Hong Kong government, at Beijing’s behest, attempted to introduce mandatory patriotic education in the city’s schools, drawing accusations of indoctrination and sparking widespread demonstrations that forced the government to back down.

The latest curriculum review risks reigniting a new round of protests, but the government’s resolve for an overhaul appears to have deepened. Hong Kong and Beijing officials have grown more outspoken over school subjects, such as liberal studies, that address controversial topics and emphasize critical analysis.

Such topics and teaching methods are off-limits in mainland Chinese schools, which place a more traditional emphasis on rote learning and shun current events that are sensitive to the Communist Party.

Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said last month that Hong Kong youth needed to have their thinking “repaired” as they have been “brainwashed.”

The problems in Hong Kong’s education system “have now become the seeds of bitter melons and poisonous beans,” said Mr. Chen at a seminar held by a think tank in Beijing, adding that some protesters who were “babies during the handover were…waving the British flag.”

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and has since operated under a separate political system that grants residents far greater freedoms than their mainland counterparts. But some people in the city worry that those freedoms are eroding.

The Education Bureau introduced liberal studies in secondary schools— roughly equivalent to social studies in American high schools—as a mandatory subject in 2009 as part of an effort to help foster political awareness and independent thought among students. The subject includes modules such as “modern China” and “Hong Kong today,” and requires students to write an independently researched essay.

Kristy Cheung, 16, says the class has made her take a strong interest in current affairs. Her essay for the class is on the relationship between police and civilians during the Occupy protests, an issue close to her heart as she camped out at the protests and argued at home with her father, who is a policeman.

Her teacher holds a “City Forum” once a month, she said, where students are assigned a particular perspective on a topic that they must then research and debate. The subject of the most recent topic was a discussion on whether China is a “developed” or a “developing” country.

A spokesman for the Education Bureau said more than 70% of secondary-school graduates surveyed in 2013 believed that liberal studies “helped them develop critical thinking skills…and awareness [of] contemporary issues.”

The spokesman didn’t respond to questions about any plans to change the liberal studies subject, but some teachers worry the course will be watered down. “As there is an assessment of the curriculum going on right now, we as teachers are very worried they might cut some sensitive content,” said Mr. Lo, the liberal studies teacher.

Some educators say they also fear the curriculum review could lead to changes in history classes.

Ng Shun-wing, a professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, questions whether the classes would be altered to gloss over the history of the Communist Party in China. In mainland China, history classes glorify the Communist Party, and ignore events such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

“In Hong Kong, we teach critical thinking, not like in China where they teach by indoctrination and memorizing,” Mr. Ng said.

But some say a curriculum that puts a greater emphasis on Chinese culture and history would ultimately be advantageous to Hong Kong.

“No matter whether you teach or not, you should understand China more,” said Lu Jingyan, an academic in the University of Hong Kong’s education department. “China is just next door.”

Officials in Beijing are keeping a close watch on Hong Kong’s schools and are mindful that students spearheaded the 2012 protests against patriotic education. The organizers of the 2012 protests were a group of teenagers who formed an activist group called Scholarism, which has since played a leading role in the city’s pro-democracy movement that occupied the city’s streets this past fall.

Jasper Tsang, president of Hong Kong’s legislature and a pro-Beijing politician, said the 2012 education protests were an “obvious turning point” in relations between Hong Kong and Beijing. Mr. Tsang himself is a former teacher.

James Hon, a former teacher who went on hunger strike during the 2012 national education protests, believes the latest attempt to alter the city’s education curriculum will only invite “huge blowback” because of the “political awakening” of Hong Kong people.

“I’m on alert, but I’m not too worried,” Mr. Hon said. “You can’t brainwash students now, they know all about what’s happening in China.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/beijing-on-edge-over-hong-kong-liberal-studies-class-1423785729

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