Archive for October, 2010

How do we solve the political system of a country called China?

There is hope that progress in political reform could move forward in China as long as no turmoil develops. Just like the first casualty of war, first casualty of turmoil in a society will be marginalization of progressive thinkers in the government. That’s the exact thing that had happened after the September 11 attack in United States. Patriot Act and other civil liberties busting law passed without a blink of an eye from citizens that were shocked, fearful and angry. When hatred and vengeance takes hold, violence and primitive behavior dominates, thereby giving upper hand to war hawks and unsavory elements in the government. My somewhat optimistic hope on China is shared by some human rights activist as quoted in this Reuters report.

…Still, some long-time activists see a glimmer of hope, pointing to comments by Premier Wen Jiabao in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen in August calling for political reform to safeguard the country’s economic health.

“If Wen is clever, he should use Liu’s winning of the peace prize to exert pressure on the conservative faction in the Party,” human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping told Reuters.

Like other countries including well developed democracies, China’s assembly, congress or whatever you want to call it, consist of forward thinkers and backward people holding on to old ideals. Media are freer now so long as they don’t question the sacred one-party government system. Criticism of officials are tolerated. There’s also been sporadic outbreak of protest against corrupt local government officials, forcing central government to take actions and bring the corrupt officials to justice. This is not to say that all is well in China. They still have a long way to go. To influence changes in China, diplomacy by showing respect will be the most effective way. This can’t be emphasized enough because any sign of coercion, bullying and public embarrassment to get them to change something will only be treated with large brick wall. “Saving face” is such a big part of that society regardless of one’s ideology.

Here in the west, our idea of China, influenced by sensationalist media, is that China is one evil empire. It’s all black and white either you are good or bad. Or as Bush like to say, either you are with us or against us. However, Chinese leadership have changed as often as U.S. or other western democracies. There’s been discussion in China about what type of political system to adopt going forward. Nevertheless, they are quite hesitant to adopt western style democracy on fear of giving in to any sign of capitulation. Scholars have debated about having a made-in-China system and argue that western political system is not a one-size-fits-all. Opening up the political system based on Confucianism have been debated.

Prevailing anti-western government feeling could not be underestimated. A lot of Chinese still harbor ill feelings about the Opium war and “Eight-Power Allied Countries invasion of China”, which have seen some atrocities and racism being committed and Hong Kong being lost to British for quite some time. This is probably not much different from ill feelings of the people from other formerly colonized countries. Even though century have passed, mistrust persist. That’s why attempts to boycott the Olympic have received worldwide backlash from Chinese around the world. It was largely seen as an attempt by the west to subvert China.

In talking to people from countries formerly colonized by the west, you can see that history have not been forgotten as much as African-American have not forgotten the slavery part of U.S. history. So to win the heart of Chinese citizens, a low key rather than bombastic pronouncement would work more effectively. The progress might seems painfully slow but the need to tread carefully to keep war hawks and hardliner at bay is a vital part of the equation if we want to see them succeed.

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Five Teen Suicides In Few Weeks, Endemic of Bullying

I was shocked to read that there have been five teen suicides recently in U.S. Three of which occur within a week. Two of the reported suicide victims were only 13 year old.

Asher Brown, a 13 year old eighth grader at a Hamilton Middle School in Harris Texas shot himself after being bullied. The eyewitnesses said that the day before Asher Brown committed suicide he was severely insulted by his classmates. The law enforcement officials said that Asher Brown used his stepfather’s 9 mm Beretta to shoot himself. His mother said that she was outside for some work and when she returned home she found yellow tapes and police cars in front of her home. (story link)

Seth Walsh, 13 year old boy from Central California hang himself after suffering relentless bullying. He hanged himself from a tree in the backyard of his parents Tehachapi home on September 19th. (story link)

Billy Lucas a 15 year old student of Greensburg High School in Indiana hung himself after being bullied repeatedly. His mother found him hanging in their barn. (story link from Sept. 14)

Justin Aaberg, a 15-year-old cellist hanged himself and was found in his room by his mother, Tammy, in July. (story link), (haunting youtube tribute), (Youtube Music Video slideshow from Friends)

And the latest that’s capturing front page of U.S. news is Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old Rutgers who jumped off the bridge after being cyber-bullied. (story link 1, story link 2)

In all cases, their bullies know or suspected that they are gay. School did nothing or have a stay neutral policy when it comes to gay and lesbian bullying. And where do you think their bullies, mostly in their early teens, learned to hate other kids like that. Most likely from their parents constantly spewing hatred against people because of their race or sexual orientation. Hate is no longer a problem about racism alone but now encompasses other phobias, bigotry and intolerance. With politicans like John McCain and his party constantly bashing people and using politics of divisiveness to tap into the inner bigotry of some of the Americans, it is no surprise that there’s epidemic of harassment, assault and bullying not only from adult sitting in news desk and in front of Fox’s news radio, but also down to the kids of those bigoted parents. Or in some cases they have adopted the prevalent intolerance in their communities sometimes perpetuated by ignorant radical religious fundamentalist. I believe in God but I have little respect for people who call themselves religious but continue to propagate hatreds.

Is it a coincidence that so many suicides occurred in span of few weeks? Certainly not. It is a symptom of the failings of the American society. I hope they did not die in vain. May they rest in peace.

Justin Aaberg’s friends created music video that are very touching. One was a video of Justin with the music he composed playing in the background, showing what a talented cello player and music composer he was. Another music video was slideshow of Justin pics in happier days with The Band Perry song – If I die young playing in the background (links provided above Justin pic). Both videos might be emotional to watch but it gives us a glimpse of the precious life that was lost. They are certainly not just a number in statistics.

Also thought this song may be appropriate for people suffering like the above kids were. Don’t Give Up – Sang by Willie Nelson and Sinead O’Connor.

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