Will There Be a Jasmine Revolution?

I just read an article on Pajamas Media entitled “A First-Hand Report from a ‘Jasmine Rally’ in Shanghai.” It discusses the author’s first-hand observations of a rally in Shanghai modeled on the protests and revolutions taking place in the Middle East, and the author’s observations on the likelihood of a similar protest/revolution succeeding in China.

What many people in the US don’t know about China is that protests and uprisings are actually very common. Very few (actually, none) are as dramatic or as large as the Tiananmen protests of 1989, but many are in response to some indiscretion, corruption, or scandal by local officials or their family members. As a result, local officials (especially the chengguan – the “City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau”) are widely reviled by ordinary citizens. Corruption is rampant in the Chinese government, as a direct result of the structure of the government – there is little accountability, since the CCP controls every aspect of the government. As there is no independent judiciary or opposition party to provide a power balance, dramatic protest is often the only outlet for popular outrage. Since the CCP values a “harmonious society,” the protests can damage the careers of local officials, so protests can sometimes effect positive changes, at least temporarily, but at an extreme price: protesters are often jailed or beaten, even killed, by thugs backing the local officials. Often, officials will try to buy off protesters to keep them quiet, but if they continue protesting, violence and/or incarceration are pretty much sure to follow.

So, can there be a successful Jasmine Revolution in China? My opinion is that it is unlikely. The Chinese government may be corrupt and sometimes brutal, but the people running the CCP are, I think, a lot smarter than the dictators and nutcases (but I repeat myself) running the various Middle Eastern tin pot dictatorships. My belief is that the CCP sees the handwriting on the wall and wants to slowly introduce reforms, without the entire country dissolving into civil war. The Chinese are well aware of their own history; when dynasties in China have fallen in the past, inevitably there has followed a period of “restructuring” that was often violent in the extreme.  I think the CCP is trying to avoid a repeat of that kind of restructuring, but there are, I am certain, reactionary elements within the CCP that don’t want to yield any power at all. I believe how the CCP decides to handle the “Jasmine” movement towards democratic government will ultimately decide whether the “Jasmine” revolution is truly a revolution, a civil war (I really hope that such a thing never happens in China, as it will be disastrous for China and the whole world), or is a “soft” revolution, with democratic reforms being introduced over time. I hope, for the people of China, and for the whole world, that the leaders of the CCP will realize that introducing reform is the only viable way forward.

[UPDATE: related article on MSNBC on a potential protest in Beijing. Clearly the Chinese authorities are worried, and are trying to prevent any protests from even getting started. This tactic could backfire, but I don’t think it will right now, unless the police do something really stupid.]

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Posted in China, Politics, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

买东西

Shopping! Tomorrow night, I have my Chinese language class, so I am studying and finishing my homework today. This chapter in the textbook (Integrated Chinese, Level 1 Part 1 – yeah, I’m a beginner) is titled “Shopping”(买东西 – pinyin: măi dōng xi, literally “buying things”). A lot of the vocabulary I already knew, fortunately for me, from doing Rosetta Stone, but doing the exercises and reading explanations of the Chinese grammar and usage is really helpful. Our teacher, 岳老师, (pinyin: Yuè Lăoshī, literally teacher Yuè) will have each of us read the dialog in Chinese (no pinyin!) in class, so I have to practice the pronunciation and character recognition a lot.

I really wish I had started learning Chinese twenty years ago (or even earlier); I’m having a lot of fun learning it, even though it is pretty difficult. Some people find it hard to believe, but actually for me, reading and writing Chinese is the easiest part. Speaking it correctly (getting the tones and pronunciation right) and understanding spoken Chinese is much harder. I’m not nearly at the place yet where I can think in Chinese; I still have to translate in my head to/from English. Trying to do that while formulating a coherent sentence or listening to a native speaker is too much for my pea-sized brain to process all at once, so I get confused or lost. Despite that, I think I know enough now where I can make myself understood in Chinese to some degree, which is pretty cool to me!

Posted in Chinese Language

大家好!

认识你们很高兴!Or in English, “Hello everyone! Happy to meet you all!”

I wanted to see how well WordPress handles Chinese. It seems to do just fine. I can use the Microsoft Chinese Pinyin ABC IME (Input Method Editor) in the WordPress dashboard, and it correctly displays the Chinese characters. If you don’t have a Chinese font installed on your computer, the Chinese characters probably will not be displayed correctly (probably like square boxes), or you might get prompted to installed a font.

Posted in Blog Stuff, China, Chinese Language

Rolling

Well, I’ve made some more progress on this here bloggy thing. I made categories for posts and for the blog roll, and I’ve made some progress on populating the blog roll. Maybe I will actually kind of enjoy this blogging stuff when posting won’t be so painful.

Posted in Blog Stuff

Well, Never Mind!

I was wrong about the <link> tag working in IE8. It isn’t in the page source. Apparently, the Google Font that I selected has been installed on my computer, so the IE8 CSS style picks it up. I don’t know why Firefox doesn’t. Or maybe I just don’t understand what’s happening at all, and I should quit speculating and figure it out!

The blog title should look like this:

Blog Title Image

Posted in Blog Stuff

Firefox Check

I’ve been looking at the blog in IE8 up until this point, so I thought I had better check it in Firefox as well. I’ve been messing with the CSS and fonts, trying to make it look a little less boring. I found out about Google Web Fonts, which allow fonts to be embedded using a technique that works across the different browsers. It works fine in IE8, but apparently not so well in Firefox (at least not how I’ve done it). Since I can’t edit the HTML for the template and include the correct <link> tag that Google Web Fonts needs in the <head>, I put the <link> in a widget over in the side bar. It isn’t visible, but it’s there. This works in IE8, but not in Firefox apparently. So, in Firefox, my nice title font is downgraded to some generic serif font. Drat.

Posted in Blog Stuff

Custom CSS

I couldn’t handle not being able to do what I wanted with the blog template, so I broke down and bought the WordPress upgrade to allow customizing the template CSS. So far, I have made a couple of modifications to the header and the menu to change the background colors and menu colors. I think it has helped a bit already – I was able to solve an alignment problem (well, actually I  punted on it by changing the background color to hide the problem). In any case, it’s an improvement, I think. The blog still looks pretty generic, but I’ve made a bit of progress! I must say, it’s nice to be able to put up a post without spending an hour hacking HTML. This is pretty cool for being (mostly) free!

Posted in Blog Stuff

Another Generic Blog

I’ve made some progress on updating this blog to be a little more to my liking, but I still think it’s a really generic-looking blog site. There have got to be a million other sites that look more-or-less the same. I’m going to continue to work to make it look a little more unique and a little nicer. The WordPress templates are nice looking, but kind of uniform. Even the “edgy” templates really are pretty corporate looking, I think. I’d prefer my site to have a little more character. I hacked all of the HTML on my old blog myself, so I could make it look exactly how I wanted it, and there weren’t any other sites that looked like it. That was the good part; the bad part was that making even a simple post could take a really long time, because I had to do so much work on the HTML. WordPress is way more convenient for posting and has a lot a great features. I know I could pay some to get the ability to hack the CSS myself, but I’m not sure this site will be worth that yet. I’ll keep playing around with the template to see what I can do with it.

Posted in Blog Stuff

Hacking the Blog

Well, I have a little time today to do some more hacking on this blog. I’m not crazy about the template I have in place right now, and I need to set up some categories, and do a bit of thinking about what topics I will post about.

Posted in Blog Stuff

My First WordPress Post

Well, I “imported” my Windows blog to WordPress. It didn’t take long, because I never posted anything to the Windows blog!

Maybe I will post more often in this blog. If I get ambitious I might import stuff from my old blog to this one, but I doubt it. I’m too lazy to do all that work, I think. We’ll see.

Well, until next time!

Posted in Blog Stuff