Hong Kong, in long historical perspective.
History is full of strange folds, wrinkles, and repetitions. Consider for example the following true story. There was once a great empire of the despotic-bureaucratic sort. It had enjoyed centuries of glory; but at last came corruption, political paralysis, foreign incursions, and fragmentation. As the empire entered its long decline, a much smaller nation of... Read More
… to politics in a postindustrial society.
Wednesday this week marks the 25th anniversary of the Chinese army’s retaking Tiananmen Square from anti-regime protestors, an event known to Chinese by the date as “6/4.” The first thing to be said about this is that if, like me, you welcome summer by reading a good thick middlebrow novel, here’s just the thing. Not... Read More
And can China get along fine without it?
So where are we with this democracy business? Last time I brought it up I left you with Robert A. Heinlein’s time traveler: It’s not clear that American democracy, as it has developed to the present, really is so wonderful. One of our big political parties somehow manages to market itself as the party of... Read More
I was slow on the uptake in understanding Chinese communism’s awfulness. I’d been a lefty in my student days without knowing anything much about China. Toward the end of those days, female Chinese author Han Suyin published A Crippled Tree, an account of her parents’ lives in early 20th-century China written from a standpoint of... Read More
It's a world-wide phenomenon.
The war between the sexes is fought on many fronts, some of them very far away. There’s a report from one of those fronts in the January 2013 issue of The China Journal. The writer is Katherine A. Mason, billed as “Lecturer in Health and Societies in the Department of History and Sociology of Science... Read More
Who will own the 21st century?
Which nation will own the 21st century? The leading candidates are the USA and China. Few people would admit any others into the competition, but I’d be a tad more careful. History takes some odd turns. Who in the year 612 AD would have prophesied that the 7th century would belong to the Arabs? To... Read More
Not so much a Wirtschaftswunder as a Staatskunstswunder.
You think the 2012 Republican field is lackluster? Check out these party animals. The "party" in that last sentence is of course the Chinese Communist Party. The gents in the picture are the Standing Committee (changwu weiyuanhui, lit. "everyday affairs committee") of the Central Politburo (zhongyang zhengzhiju, lit. "central political bureau") of the CCP. They... Read More
Terrorism and self-determination.
Sometimes you write a column just so you can for ever after refer people to it. "Oh, that subject/point/complaint/theory/argument? I tackled/countered/responded to/exploded/demolished that back in July '11 — here's the link." Well, this is one of those. Back in — heaven help me! — 1999 I wrote a column for the Weekly Standard about Uighurs.... Read More
Lang Lang's patriotism, and Obama's.
This week's storm in a teacup was Chinese pianist Lang Lang's playing of the Chinese song "My Motherland" at a state dinner for some visiting Chinese functionaries. The song is a gushy old patriotic thing — you can inspect the lyrics here and see it sung in its original movie setting here — from the... Read More
The new Internet?
This week's state visit of Hu Jintao, China's "president" — I would prefer to say "head apparatchik," since "president" implies an elected position, which is not the case — has fired off another round of China-up? / China-down? speculation in the press. In the present climate of American national foreboding, the speculation comes paired with... Read More
Atatürk got it right.
The current constitution of the People's Republic of China, adopted in December 1982, tells us that: "The People's Republic of China is a unitary multi-national state." That is pretty darn close to the dictionary definition of an empire: "an extended territory usu. comprising a group of nations, states, or peoples under the control or domination... Read More
China crisis in the living-room.
At the height of the 1956 Suez crisis, the wife of the British Prime Minister is supposed to have remarked: "It seems as though the Suez Canal is flowing through my living-room." I know how she felt. This past couple of days, the South China Sea has been lapping against my favorite armchair. My wife,... Read More