Main | November 2005 »

June 26, 2005

伤痕历史


我要写. 写中国历史的痛.

下个星期三要交一篇文章, 关于中美台关系. 我在看历史, 看国际法, 看台湾文化, 看美国. 读着读着, 层层迭迭的复杂感觉, 交替的无奈--是痛, 就是心痛.

因为我看到中国历史的伤痕, 一寸寸的满布在中国人的思想, 社会, 政府, 外交政策. 简单一句, 就是伤痕累累.

中国人有很重的历史感. 在北京待过一年, 跟年纪比较大的人交谈, 感受他们对国家的种种期望, 因为过去有太多的重担. 人活在一个现代社会, 却背在一百多年的挫折.

住在北大的外学生楼(勺园), 跟全世界不同国家的人交往, 也真的感受到美国人跟其他国家的人对历史观点的不同. 我们在讨论美国的时候, 很多人都说美国人的文化历史感低劣. 没有历史. 没有世界观.

美国有历史, 是不同的历史. 一个普通的美国人可能不会意识到世界和国家历史能深深的切入一个人的自我观. 在一般的情况下, 他会跟别人说:我是美国人. 很简单的自我介绍. 人家可能不羡慕他, 但他自己都会隐约的感受到一种淡淡的骄傲.

这是因为美国没有伤痕历史.

中国历史的悠久, 代表了长流不息的高低起落. 随着一个朝代的风光, 就是另一个朝代的没落. 换了皇帝, 有了希望. 皇帝的子孙弄垮了国家, 战争又来. 做平民的知道这是中国历史的循环, 一代又一代的活在无奈中.

中国的近代历史也是一个又一个的挫折, 无尽头的失望. 每一次一位国家领导人做了一个错误的决定, 就连累到千千万万人的生计. 一串串的错误就成为千千万万人生存的弱点. 现在中国开始富起来了, 终于有第一个中国太空人走到地球以外的世界, 可是回到现在, 中国人看对岸台湾同胞要坚决决裂, 还依赖美国老兄的熊臂, 每天在告诉大陆种种的不是. 国民党统治台湾初期跟大陆共产党的残忍不相百仲, 有了民主以后就跟世界说我们是独立的, 有自己的政治体系. 然后全世界都觉得中国大陆的政策荒谬, 告诉中国, 国际法是支持台湾独立的.

我没有任何好的观点,理由,逻辑,证据,理论来支持中台合一. 二十一世纪的世界是要有国际法来权衡国家之间的冲突. 可是中国人就是中国人. 我们活在我们一百多年的历史包袱当中. 要强大,就要拥有所有的资源地域, 要有所有中国人的支持和信念. 台湾要独立, 就要靠美国, 这样把亚洲的整个策略性的平衡都破坏了. 香港人, 台湾人, 大陆人, 我们不都是从中国来的么?

中国历史, 是伤痕历史.


Posted by sinogeek at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

A War Shrine, for a Japan Seeking Not Guilty Verdict

The New York Times
A War Shrine, for a Japan Seeking a Not Guilty Verdict
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

June 22, 2005

TOKYO - One recent rainy morning, a couple of dozen vehicles belonging to the Patriotic Youth League and other Japanese right-wing groups gathered inside the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine, the Shinto memorial to Japan's war dead. "Revere the Emperor," read a slogan on one truck. Others alluded to enemies unnamed: "Love and Protect our Motherland" and "Kill one, one at a time."

At 12:30 p.m., the caravan spilled out onto Tokyo's streets, destination unclear. But the targets are usually the same: the Chinese Embassy, the liberal media, anybody daring to challenge the argument that Japan's wars were legitimate and that their leaders were not criminals. Yasukuni Shrine is the symbolic center of Japan's efforts to revise its militaristic past, and lies at the heart of worsening relations between Japan and its neighbors. Not only right-wing extremists, but now also mainstream politicians and the news media are more openly arguing that the 14 war criminals enshrined in Yasukuni were not guilty - and, because they were not, Japan's wars could not have been that bad.

In a face-to-face meeting on June 20, for example, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi steadfastly resisted the entreaties of President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea that he stop visiting the shrine and build an alternate one that would be more acceptable to China and the Koreas, all of them victims of a brutal Japanese colonization.

While the Japanese have received the bulk of the criticism for the shrine, they are not, however, the only ones to have manipulated the meaning of Yasukuni and its war criminals. So have the Chinese, the Taiwanese and the Americans, each according to their own interests.

During America's six-year occupation of Japan after World War II, Americans spent the first half democratizing the country and prosecuting war criminals. In the second half, with Communists controlling China and the cold war bearing down, Washington reversed course: wartime leaders were rehabilitated overnight in an effort to make Japan strong. Some Class A war criminal suspects, after barely escaping the noose, became postwar Japan's political and business leaders; one, Nobusuke Kishi, even became prime minister.

The mixed messages from America - as well as the highly politicized Tokyo Trials that tried the Japanese leaders but avoided mentioning Emperor Hirohito, whom America had decided not to depose - laid the seeds of confusion here. They also left open the door for the Japanese to argue that the overall verdict - that Japan had led a war of aggression - was also false.

"It was a war of self-defense," Yuko Tojo, the granddaughter of the wartime prime minister who was executed as a Class A war criminal and is enshrined in Yasukuni, said in a telephone interview. "China claims it is unforgivable that the head of state visits Yasukuni, where those responsible for causing trouble by conducting a war of aggression are enshrined. But if we agree with China, it would mean that we recognize it as a war of aggression. So we can't."

Visits to Yasukuni have long been regarded as coded endorsements of conservative nationalist views like hers. Indeed, when Mr. Koizumi said two weeks ago that he actually recognized the validity of the Tokyo Trials, the nation's largest-selling newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, which does not, was flabbergasted. "With what view of history has Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine in the past?" it asked in an editorial, adding that if Mr. Koizumi accepted the trials' rulings, "then Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni Shrine."

Yasukuni Shrine was built in 1869, as part of Japan's drive to create a nationalistic state religion centered around a divine emperor. By the end of World War II, almost 2.5 million soldiers would be enshrined here for giving their lives for the emperor. Except for two civil conflicts, the other nine wars in which the soldiers died all revolved around Japan's advance into China, the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan and, ultimately, its attack on the United States.

Yasukuni's war museum argues that America forced Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor as a way of shaking off the Depression, saying that "the U.S. economy made a complete recovery once the Americans entered the war." A video shown at the museum, called "We Won't Forget," describes America's postwar occupation of Japan as "pitiless." But the museum makes no mention of Japan's own occupation of Asia. As for the Rape of Nanjing, the museum blames the Chinese commander and adds that, thanks to Japanese actions, "inside the city, residents were once again able to live their lives in peace."

In a written statement, Yasukuni officials said, "The exhibition is not based on any special historical viewpoint, but is based on clear evidence."

Yasukuni's view of history is one that few Asians or Americans would accept. But like Japanese politicians, foreigners also appear to recognize the shrine's political value.

Shu Ching Chiang, a Taiwanese lawmaker who is pro-independence and anti-China, visited Yasukuni in April. Taiwanese soldiers who served Japan's Imperial Army during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan are also enshrined in Yasukuni.

"Every country has the right to pay respect to its war dead in the way it chooses," Mr. Shu said in a recent interview in Taipei. Like many Japanese, he compared Yasukuni to Arlington National Cemetery.

Arthur Ding, an international relations expert at National Chengchi University in Taipei, decoded Mr. Shu's trip: "He delivered a message to Japan that his party wants a close relationship with Japan and to China that they are for Taiwanese independence."

While the Chinese and the South Koreans have legitimate reasons to oppose the shrine, they have been accused of using it to shore up domestic support by appealing to nationalist sentiments.

Noticeable in its silence on Yasukuni and the verdict on the Class A war criminals is the United States. As the nation that defeated Japan, occupied it and still has 50,000 troops deployed here, America is the one country that Japan may still listen to on these subjects. America is hardly a disinterested observer, after all, because Yasukuni deifies Japanese who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor.

American officials raise an eyebrow at Japanese comparisons of Yasukuni to Arlington National Cemetery. But they tend to defend, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, Japanese visits to Yasukuni, or maintain a studied silence. The cold war may be over, but China's rise alarms America just as much as did the rise of Communism in the 1940's. So better a strong, remilitarized Japan, no matter what the Japanese say about Yasukuni or war criminals.

Posted by sinogeek at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

Mixed Messages

This is old old news, but I thought it highlights some of the issues facing law, commercial speech, consumerism and culture.

TimeAsia
Mixed Messages
Advertisers are learning that if you want to sell products in China, you have to understand the people—all 1.3 billion of them
By Bryan Walsh | Beijing

Nov. 4, 2002

Advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) thought it was playing it safe two years ago when it adapted a Pizza Hut TV commercial from the U.S. by using Chinese actors. The spot featured a classroom of kids giving reports on their weekends, capped by a student who gets so excited recounting his trip to Pizza Hut that he climbs on top of his desk. Bart Simpson's antics might be fair game in a U.S. classroom, but the China Advertising Association (CAA)—the government agency that vets commercials—decided the pizza ad had too much ham. Censors "thought the end was impolite," says Lo Sheung Yan, JWT's Northeast Asia executive creative director. JWT had to substitute a bowdlerized version, sans delinquent behavior, before it could air the ad.

The Pizza Hut faux pas highlights a dilemma that challenges advertising's creative types as they try to beguile mainland audiences. From a handful of TV spots that resembled infomercials, advertising in China has grown over the past decade both in size—to nearly $11 billion in 2001 according to ACNielsen, making it the fourth largest ad market in the world—and in quality. "In China, it's still what we call the Golden Age of Advertising," says T.B. Song, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather China. While Chinese consumers have become increasingly sophisticated, however, it's still tough crafting a message that doesn't irritate the audience or get snagged by government censors.

The Taiwanese-born Song, who in 1992 was among the first wave of expat talent to hit the mainland, says the essential problem for advertisers and their clients alike "is that this market is too big and research data is difficult and expensive to get." Tom Doctoroff, JWT's CEO for Northeast Asia, prefers to subdivide the country's population into four major categories—youth, the emerging middle class, women and the old—each of which demands a customized approach. China's youth, for example, show "a desire for individualism coupled with a fear of becoming truly individualistic," according to Doctoroff. He cites as an example a Yahoo TV commercial featuring a mailman who completes his appointed rounds while doing a funky dance. He is saved from being locked up in a Beijing mental ward by the ad's ending that reveals he is just one member of a funk-dancing team. "It's about being kooky," says Doctoroff, "but being kooky in a group."

China's notoriously vague advertising laws are one of the biggest dangers for the unwary copywriter. Some of the regulations are designed to protect public health—as in the West, cigarette ads are restricted, and the law prohibits blatantly false advertising. Other rules defend Chinese citizens' impressionable minds. The final cut is usually left up to the CAA. Yang Peiqing, the association's president, sums up its regulatory philosophy: "The release of an advertisement should not only produce a better economic result but a better result in spiritual civilization."

That's a tall order—and a murky one—for a soft-drink ad. But at least advertisers know there are certain hot buttons they must not push, such as depictions of political protests. Apple Computer's award-winning television spot directed by Ridley Scott that was aired in the U.S. during the 1984 Super Bowl showed an Orwellian dystopia challenged by a sledgehammer-throwing young woman: precisely the type of commercial that a Chinese censor would say is lacking in "spiritual civilization."

Once you've cleared the censors, you've still got to charm the intended crowd. The last thing advertisers want to do is treat their audience like bumpkins. When JWT developed the first original Nike ad for China a few years ago, it opted not to use its go-to pitchman for the U.S, his Airness Michael Jordan. Instead JWT went for homegrown basketball players, including Wang Zhizhi of the Bayi Rockets. Alas, Chinese kids want to be like Mike, not like Wang, and the ad flopped. "All we were trying to say is that China has great basketball stars, too," says Doctoroff. "But it was interpreted that we were talking down to them, insulting their intelligence." In any country, that's the worst mistake an advertiser can make.

Posted by sinogeek at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Demanding Justice from Japan

Quite a number of people have made the observation that the protests in China against Japan regarding WWII atrocities in the last month or two is an excellent example of typical Chinese hypocrisy--that the Chinese people don't even know much about its own recent (communist) history (beyond what the government tells them) and yet they demand that the Japanese admit to the world the true extent of its criminal behavior during the war.

A blogger has made the comment that if the Chinese people can't face up to its own history, they have no right to demand same from the Japanese.

I have something to say about that. Here's a reproduction of my comment to fellow blogger.

The Chinese government's inability and unwillingness to allow people to learn the true version of events since 1949 is a grave wrong against the people, I agree.

But I do not agree that because the Chinese people can't face up to its own history, they cannot demand that Japan faces up to the history in WWII.

First of all, the crimes against the Chinese people by the Japanese imperialists were committed before any of the atrocities occured in China's communist history. It has been a much longer time passed. Japan has moved on from being an aggressor in WWII to an ally to the free world--and yet, it has not moved one finger in admitting, and note I am not even saying apologizing for, its wrongs. Shouldn't the Japanese government know better than that?

Second, and in line with the last point, the Chinese government is still trying really hard to hold on to its power now. There is a dark political reason behind their policy of shielding history and stopping people from learning it. Not that it's in any way justifiable, but what is Japan's reason for not admitting to its own history? There are no power issues involved anymore, and I can't help but to suspect that Japan is still trying to hold on to an era where Japansese superiority is accepted and promoted, an idea that is heinous as well as it is dangerous.

However, I emphasize that I am also disgusted by the CCP's systematic efforts in blocking people from speaking the truth, sharing their experiences and even learning about the truth. But two wrongs together doesn't make anything right. As a government, it is true that the CCP has very little legitimacy when it seeks apology from Japan, due to the reason that you have given readers in your entry, but as a people, the Chinese have every right to demand justice from the Japanese government.

The sad thing, indeed, is that many of the anti-Japan protestors were encouraged, condoned (if not manipulated and incited) by the Chinese government. I think a better way to phrase this issue is that, if the Chinese people don't have enough guts to demand justice from their own government, why are they demanding it from a foreign government?

Posted by sinogeek at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Zhang Lin To be Tried Next Week

Human Rights in China
Dissident Writer Zhang Lin to be Tried Next Week

June 15, 2005


Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the words of a punk rock song are part of the evidence to be raised against dissident writer Zhang Lin when he is tried next week on charges of incitement to subvert state power.

Sources in China told HRIC that Zhang Lin will be brought before the Intermediate People’s Court of Bengbu, Anhui Province on the morning of June 21 in a trial that is closed to the public. Zhang Lin was detained at the Bengbu train station on January 29 this year after returning from a failed attempt to attend a memorial service for deposed Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang in Beijing. Zhang was one of dozens of people reported detained around that time for similar reasons, and the current whereabouts of many of these people remain unknown.

HRIC has now learned that Zhang Lin’s indictment mentions nothing about his memorial activities for Zhao Ziyang, but rather accuses him of inciting subversion through his Internet writings, including the posting of some stanzas from a song by the punk rock group Pangu.

The indictment issued by the Bengbu municipal procuratorate on May 23 states, “The accused, Zhang Lin, used the Internet, overseas radio transmissions and other such media to openly disseminate language that misrepresents and denigrates the national authorities and the socialist system, and which incites subversion of state power and the overthrow of the socialist system under Article 105 of China’s Criminal Law.” The indictment states the details of Zhang Lin’s alleged crime as follows: “During the period between August 2003 and January 2005, the accused, Zhang Lin, posted 192 articles on the Internet Web sites of Boxun, Epoch Times, Secret News, China Monthly and others.” The indictment states that the contents of Zhang’s essays “opposed the basic principles of the constitution, damaged national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, spread falsehoods, disturbed social order and damaged social stability.” Among the critical writings the indictment cites is Zhang’s essay “Pangu – The Hysterical Ravings of the Chinese People.” The essay quotes a song by the punk rock group that says, “The Yellow River should run dry, this society should collapse, this system should be destroyed, this race should become extinct, this country should perish.” The quotation of this song is included in the indictment as an example of incitement to subvert state power.

According to Internet Web sites, Pangu is a punk rock group formed by a group of young people in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province in 1995. After the group moved to Guangzhou, its popularity spread across the country. Articles observe that the band’s countercultural attitude has proven especially popular with disaffected Chinese youth. When Pangu performed in Taiwan in 2004, one of its songs, “Independent Revolution,” was viewed as supporting Taiwan independence. The group has since settled in Sweden, where it continues to perform punk songs, including one setting a poem by Zhang Lin to music. Some sources in China have expressed particular concern that the citing of the Pangu song in Zhang Lin’s indictment effectively construes artistic expression as a political act.

Zhang Lin, born in Bengbu in 1963, is a long-time political dissident. During the Democracy Wall period in 1979, Zhang Lin was introduced to dissident writings while a student at Tsinghua University. During the 1989 democracy movement, Zhang Lin led student hunger strikes in Bengbu. Following the violent official suppression of the democracy movement in June 1989, Zhang Lin was detained and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “counterrevolutionary incitement.” Following his release, in 1993 Zhang Lin joined Liu Lianchun, Yuan Hongbing and others to establish the “Federation for the Protection of Worker’s Rights,” after which Zhang was detained again in 1994 and sentenced to three years of Reeducation Through Labor. Following his release in 1997, Zhang Lin settled in the United States, but in 1998 he illegally reentered China, where he was detained again and sentenced to three years of Reeducation Through Labor. Zhang Lin experienced considerable hardship and ill-treatment during his various detentions. Following his latest release, Zhang Lin was subjected to constant monitoring and harassment by the police, and was never able to live a normal life. He supported himself and his family largely through the money he was paid for the articles he published overseas. Two of Zhang’s articles describing his personal experiences and the situation in Bengbu have been published in English in HRIC’s quarterly journal, China Rights Forum.

Zhang Lin is currently detained in Bengbu’s No. 1 Detention Center. He has gone on hunger strike twice to protest his detention and the physical abuse he has experienced there. Zhang’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has not been allowed to see him. Mo Shaoping earlier this month learned from the trial judge that Zhang’s trial would not be open to the public. Mo applied for an open trial on the basis that Zhang was being prosecuted for his public writings, and there were no state secrets involved, but his application was denied.

“The use of the words of a punk rock song to charge Zhang Lin with subversion shows the lengths to which the Chinese authorities feel compelled to go in persecuting and suppressing those who exercise freedom of expression,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “Zhang Lin has been subjected to constant persecution over the past 16 years, even though his chief aspiration has always been the welfare of China and the Chinese people. The Chinese authorities should withdraw their prosecution against Zhang Lin, or if they insist on carrying it forward, they should try Zhang in open court so the public can witness how justice is administered in this deplorable case.”

Posted by sinogeek at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

Welcome

Welcome to the Sinogeek Blog. Here's a little (lame) introduction of myself just in case you are curious who I am.

I have been a China watcher since I was 11 years old, the year of 1989, one of the most critical years for Communist countries in the world.

I was moved by the students' passion for their country, and stunned by the government's brutality and dishonesty.

Since then I was obsessed with reading about China. The 1989 Democracy Movement was one of those few historical events that had an almost life-changing impact on me. Not almost, actually. It changed me.

So here I am, 16 years after the fact, wondering what I could do with all those knowledge and perspectives I have collected these years. I am much of a sinogeek, indeed, and so let me spill out my geekiness through this blog.

Some things you may want to bear in mind when you read this blog:
1. Don't take it for any journalistic value. While I do post news about China on this site, my choice of the news comes with a perspective. To sum it up, I don't try to be fair.

2. I welcome comments. But please, I do not like personal attacks, and if it gets too out of hand, I reserve the right to remove it (but I will exercise the power to censor to its minimum). I can go on and on about issues that I care about, and if any discussion engendered broadens my perspectives just a little, my purpose of maintaining this blog is served.

3. I also welcome offline discussions. Please feel free to email me (I will put a link to my email address once I set one up).

4. I will remain anonymous. However if you care enough to strike a conversation with me offline, chances are you will get to know me on a personal level, if you wish, that is.


Posted by sinogeek at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)