Of Crouching Tiger And Hidden Ants

As the chinese saying goes, 上有政策,下有对策 (The higher ups have policies while the lower downs have their own ways of getting around them). It matters as much on the political will from the top, as it is on how it’s implemented and executed on the local level. As China opens up more to market economy, it’ll facilitate corruption even more since the biggest piece of pork is no longer under state control. What it also needs, is the rule of law, without which everything (success or failure) is beholden on whoever is in power.

We cannot judge the danger of an autocrat under conditions when things are going well – we can only know his true colors when they are not – and by then, it may be too late. Is it at all possible that President Xi could use his current neo-authoritarianism to push through democratic reforms the way General de Gaulle did in France? If he were truly benign and well-intentioned, it would be possible to argue that it would be a bad thing to “ensure that Mr. Xi will continue pursuing his agenda, which has begun to lift millions of people out of poverty, reformed state-owned enterprises, protected the environment and built strategic industries. If all goes according to plan, he could preside over the transition when China eclipses the United States as the world’s largest economy in absolute terms within two decades.”

The problem is, as we’ve seen time and time again, his objective will soon become all about clinging to power, and doing whatever it takes – not just the crackdown on freedoms or imports, but more sinister steps if/when the economic and social results are not what he’d like them.

At the end of the day, both our systems resemble in that an elite, political or economic control the establishment as being the front men or acting behind the curtains. In democracy you are allowed to speak and act to a certain level bit beyond that if you begin to jeopardize the entrenched interests of the elite, you will be demolished by being demonized by the twin forces of the elite corporate media and the establishment. This is particularly evident when you dare to question the omnipresence of those political behemoths in the private and public sphere of the society. These forces are undermining democracy. On the other hand the communist countries are quite brute in their control of society.

But what about the ability of the ordinary citizen to speak when his ‘freedom of speech’ is being grabbed forcefully and his recourse to justice is so financially onerous – Is the end result different from China where the peasants will end up with the same fate for his land earmarked for real estate development? But it should keep in mind that in nations in which the moderate voices of the middle class are suppressed, power is eventually taken by sinister forces that ride into power on the backs of the uneducated, and generally prove worse than the original oppressors.

The historian, Ma Yong, is quoted as saying: “The question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward? That’s our test.” This was also the question the Chinese Imperial government faced at the end of the Qing Dynasty in the nineteenth century and points directly to the real issues China’s leaders face now. It’s hard to change things when those things are entrenched in a society/country whether it’s a democracy or any other form of governance. This is true of Communist, Socialists, Republicans, and Democrats. Ideology, in terms of fascist thoughts (by “fascism” I mean the unified combination of socialism, capitalism, and militarism), has nothing to do with political control. I saw, with my own eyes, a very large group of Chinese citizens singing the old songs of Mao, with fervor, with passion and pride. They get together every day, at the Summer Palace, to relive the ‘glory days’. One very pleasant older gentleman tried to recruit me for the sing-along. I know fervor in music when I hear it. But here we don’t revere Stalin or Mao, we revere…..

The age of top-down hierarchies is over. The iron fist and the police state are hopelessly overmatched by people educated as never before in history. There isn’t nearly as much separating us from China as you might wish to believe. The only difference is that we went opposite directions. Successful democracy is created by the middle class.

Thus the trick in managing this transition is to create a vibrant, educated middle class — something China is doing — and to create the institutions that will allow it to take power. As societies change and become better educated, the fawning support of past dictators dies out to be replaced with the longing for the rights of citizens, rather than being subjugated by autocrats. Xi would I think do well to look at South Korea and Taiwan, which democratized peacefully as they became more prosperous and their middle class grew. Both began with the trappings of democracy, but an authoritarian presidential system. Both became real democracies over time. Japan and Hong Kong are instructive as well.

When China opts for democratic reforms, it will proceed out of economic necessity, not from high flown ideals. Taiwan’s JIANG Jing-Guo, who initiated democracy on the island, was no democrat, just a pragmatic who acknowledged the economy & society were becoming too rich and complex for a centralized government to control. Mainland might have reached that stage when a dynamic economy needs individuals not to be obedient but creative.

Can society be kept under control while you go forward? Or is it the other way around. Can you go forward while you keep society under control? We will never be a great country until we are able to ask the right question.






9 Responses to “Of Crouching Tiger And Hidden Ants”

  • Gps:

    Stupid vote stupid.

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  • #06-15 Lau Kau + stupid women:

    Spore has never progressed beyond being a high class pasar malam.

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  • xoxo:

    This govt takes more care of other sovereigns’ jobless than our own poor and needy like via the Stupid FT PoLEEcy?
    And,$100 Billion in the name of saving jobs.
    Saving whose job$$$?

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  • BK:

    Morning bro, a salubrious breakfast for the mind (:

    U have implicitly asked the Needlam question; why did Europe get ahead of China and India? Why did science took hold in Europe but suppressed in China?

    I think the rediscovery of the Greek philosophers by the Europeans in Islamic Spain adroitly produced a mechanicanization of nature. And this was economically incentivized by profitable trades across the Atlantic and China.

    The elites or Kings at that time were happy to encourage such activities for economic plundering and military prowess.

    It produced a social development of the need to educate more citizens that led to democracy as we know it.

    China science arguably grew fastest in constant wars before Han dynasty stabilized China. After that its preeminence saw it sitting pretty with little incentive to innovate. In fact , innovation can be seen as a threat to the elites, coz new thoughts, new social developments are needed.

    Deng who opened up China was great coz he truly broke the mold of China’s elites. But still Tiananmen showed the entrenched remnants of authority who fear changes in political order.

    It is the embracing of social development that must challenge CCP that will determine whether China will reach another pinnacle.

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  • oxygen:

    BRILLIANT INSIGHTFUL WRITING – successful democracy creates a core middle class which in turn interrogates/consolidates democratic institutions in positive feedback loop.

    Sojourner:Successful democracy is created by the middle class

    We see that disintegrates in US which allows the extremism divide to be incubated/take root, in the Trumpism phenomena as the middle class there, is hollowed out.

    We saw that in the Brexit vote where only London (and its hinterland) strongly voting strongly urged to remain in the EU political/economic architecture.

    We saw in LEE-jiapore how SengKang GRC where yuppies vote against incumbency – the same saw in swinging votes in condos – the “rich” is now the new poor.

    We see a much milder reaction in Down Under – Scott Morrison – came back from behind trailing the poll – ditched green politics to favor job creation in coal-mining parts Queensland and took the top job.

    Elsewhere the voting pattern Down Under sustains with no big surprise, certainly none of the extreme political divide we saw in EU/US now – the middle class holds the core pillar of stability.

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  • oxygen:

    WOMEN VOTERS voted for “continuity” and “stability” – both are GHOSTS OF FICTION in a turbulent world of deglobalisation and Covid-19 pandemic.

    A lot still have not woke up but those more politically-economically aware portion now see facts/reality of PAPpypolitics/PAPpynomics UTTER IMPOTENCE in the face of tumultuous storms engulfing.

    A lot more pain to come -even for the aspiring “rich” ants inhabiting condo living – believe it or not.

    Two things stand out of complete truth-telling.

    First Ravi Menon, MAS boss, spoke the complete ugly truth – 20% of our economic base is deeply scarred and any recovery hope is dim and struggling to sustain henceforth. Just imagine 20% of that labor market is unemployed and/or under-employed staring in the face of women voters longing for “continuity” and “stability” ghosts.


    Secondly I noted that the BOND MARKET in the world IS AS GOOD AS DEAD – even in the supposedly fast recovery booming China – post-Covid 19 pandemic. Massive state-owned enterprises in China is defaulting on their bond obligation at an alarming rate.

    Why China’s Debt Defaults Are More Alarming This Time

    The message that sink into my skull is that globally, people are living on DEBT which have zero or even NEGATIVE RETURN all waiting to default. Imagine the issuers (seller) of bonds are paying you negative yields for the use of your money he/she borrowed and YOU AS A LENDER has no protection of return of your capital even in Xi JinPing State-owned borrower bent over and show you his a*se (when you ask for its debt-obligations ignored)

    The falling domino impact of rolling bankruptcy collapses reverberating is about to ripple across the globe – starting from China and US (dumb Trump stupid politics and economics) – ALL DICTATORSHIP WASTED A DECADE OF REFORM before Covid-19 pandemic sweeps in!!

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  • Which is why I say time and time, over and over again that politics is a very bloody and dirty game.

    I may not agree with what the LEEders or Leaders are doing, but I can understand why they are doing it.

    Once you have reached the apex of power with access to billions to fiack around, you really do not want to step down. Ask Jack and Pony if they had willingly resigned as President if they had a choice.

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Sin City is NOT even a Match to any of the BigCity in China…there!!! no contest and no COMPARISON…
    LEEdership???…stripped a people from all their Rights and Forced savings to be used as a War Chest to stay in Power and the Middle-Class educated???…driving Grab and Cycle motorised or manpower to deliver food…

    60 years of stupidity waving a Book on he Con You…leaving the people and Nation at the Mercy of a few…walking with a placard “Smiley” and you are Charged…How Sad to be charged for smiling

    Replaced the “murdered innocent” through LEEgal Abortion, One Million+++ last count 1974-2016 with Rubbish and a sprinkling of Talent???

    and “Voila” we have arrived… a 1st World Smart a$$e City no longer SINful but filled with Maggots feeding on the people…and the people??? is there a Majority left??? of the CORE with the outer mostly eaten by The Maggots…

    Absolutely NOT!!!…Welcome to MaggotCity

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  • Sojoürner:

    BK: Morning bro, a salubrious breakfast for the mind (:

    Salutations! Oxygen, xoxo, TUMASIK Patriot, et al

    Good morning. There’s a little bite to the morning air these days. It calls for hot coffee and something sturdy to eat. Breakfast season’s upon us! This sounds like great fun! but getting carried away you may have to spend the remainder of the weekend in the gym!

    Let’s hope the Biden Administration has an accurate view of China’s growing political and military role in the world. With the RCEP signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries, signalling globalization is alive and well on this side of the Pacific, the decoupling that is already underway between the USA & China is baked in. The question is how far will it go.

    Today 2/3 of the Dems. and ¾ of the Reps. hold hostile views of China – thus Biden’s reading on Xi Jinping, but the election is over now.

    Human survival on this planet has now become a battle between two systems of thought and governance; one the American based on Western Neo-Liberalism and the other the Chinese under Premier Xi Jinping based on a restating of Marxist Socialism. The implications for the future of human civilization are profound.

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