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It Had Always Been Rambutans

Recent events has led one to reminisce about those ‘kampong days’ where “red/yellow fleshy, juicy” rambutans used to grow gloriously in someone’s compound and also in abundance by the waysides, though delightfully colorful, are almost impossible to be eaten, really damned sour.

“What’s this?” someone candidly remarked, pointing to a bunch of red fruit with spikes, sagging on branches by the waysides. The leader checks to see what he’s pointing to – the colorful fruits about the size of red hairy eggs. “Ngaw,” he tells him, carefully enunciating the word. And then adds with displeasure, “rambutans” in English. Everyone’s trying to expand their vocabularies but left without getting to taste the red/yellow tempestuous fruits. Moral of the story: A sour rambutan has to look more exotic.

Zhao Xiaozhuo: “…the Shangri-la Dialogue, as a forum, (is) dominated by the United States and its allies, serving the interest of the United States and its allies. And also the topics discussed often point to differences, rather than cooperation, and the divergence rather than convergence.”

Dr Ng Eng Hen: “Sometimes it’s a matter of taste, I can imagine that people from the (People’s Liberation Army) come here and find this raucous, a bit rambunctious, (that) this is the Western liberal mode of many ideas, and from this, you’re supposed to gain wisdom and they go back and say it was thoroughly discombobulating. That’s entirely understandable. There is no coercion for you to attend.”

Talking about geopolitics, Kishore Mahbubani says, “I know that diplomacy succeeds best when you don’t insult other countries. Indeed, the definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you feel that you’re going to enjoy the journey to hell. Diplomacy is about subtlety and sophistication. The most effective diplomats are those who avoid insulting other countries and instead always talk politely.”

I have been working on a “foreign policy model” and I shall test a sketch of it in the case of Singapore or the Republic of China.

Here are some preliminary findings:

I. Suggestions for China. Make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right medicine or treatment.
(a) Secure a “brutally objective” definition of the situation. This would include deep and realistic understanding of Sun Tzu’s dictum: “Know yourself, know your adversary.” Contrast: Review the “fantasies and unrealistic” ideas.
(b) Figure out the most effective responses to the situation. Guiding principle: “Do what is right and just.” Not mere words but actual implementation of the decided policies.
(c) Proceed with plan and keep the options open and maintain strategic adaptability.

II. Suggestions for Singapore.
(a) Build up a strong economy without being overly dependent on the PRC.
(b) Build up a strong defense without inadvisable provocations to PRC. Secure support from “allies or nations and leaders favorable to Singapore.
(c) Relationships with PRC — cooperate when it can, retreat when necessary, advance or make counter movements when opportunities are available.

[Russian Field Marshall Mikhail Kutuzov said in Tolstoy's War and Peace: "There is nothing stronger than those two, patience and time, they will do it all."]

Let me add: Perseverance, when your cause is right and just.

So my takeaway for Zhao Xiaozhuo’s next visit, is to bring his own rambutans for the host, not from his garden but preferably from those that ‘grew by the waysides’ and tell the host, the name, placing the accent on the final syllable: “Ram-bu-tan’!” I say.

That’s what I would call, political subtlety and sophistication.

 

Sjorne Shen

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

33 Responses to “It Had Always Been Rambutans”

  • High Cock Talk:

    This hen talk English, and all the talk cock follow, for so long. Must be a very powderful pretty hen.

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  • MarBowling:

    Diplomacy is about subtlety and sophistication. The most effective diplomats are those who avoid insulting other countries and instead always talk politely.” – Prof Kishore!

    CHICKEN HEN talks Queen English, Not talking But SOUNDS like LKY, Talks Cock, Crap and BS. China will take NOTE of his ARROGANCE and INSULTS SERIOUSLY!

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  • xoxo:

    No wonder my granny used to say,* one HEN ,one duck…*,NO UNSERSTAND each other.
    Ah HEN,*ler kong si mi*?!
    *what talking you*?!!!
    VerboSHITTY!!!

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  • wisdom:

    Kishore Mahbubani says, “I know that diplomacy succeeds best when you don’t insult other countries. Indeed, the definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you feel that you’re going to enjoy the journey to hell. Diplomacy is about subtlety and sophistication. The most effective diplomats are those who avoid insulting other countries and instead always talk politely.”

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  • Stupid Singaporeans Vote PAP:

    This hen should be made into chicken rice for their rallies.

    High Cock Talk:
    This hen talk English, and all the talk cock follow, for so long. Must be a very powderful pretty hen.

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  • panyusg:

    Powerful English words that I had to look up the online dictionary.

    Dr. Ng Eng Hen is a general surgeon. He is more fluent with medical jargon. Never knew a doctor is also so powerful in throwing out a slew of deep English words.

    Probably the Chinese translators could not translate and maybe that was his hidden objective. Confuse them or discombobulate them.

    ha ha

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  • panyusg:

    No need to remind all able-bodied males….we have Two down-below and hairy too.

    We are indeed macho as rambutans signify who we are, what we are. Those without the “rambutans” are called pondans.

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  • theforgottongeneration:

    Suggestions for China:
    1) China’s NON ACCEPTANCE of the UN rulings on the SCS is already non-compliant, non-cooperation and absolute divergence from the international community. They should sent someone other than this Zhao Xiaozhuo who is slapping their own face.

    Suggestions for SG:
    1) Use someone much less arrogant than this Hen to speak at international forums/events.
    2) Kick yourself for investing too heavily in China.
    3) Stop thinking China still have much to learn from SG or that it needs SG nowadays. We have lost the edge 15+ years ago under the useless pig that couldn’t fly even when given a super-long runway; meanwhile China had zoomed ahead across all sectors of growth.

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  • Rambunctious Gonads:

    High Cock Talk:
    This hen talk English, and all the talk cock follow, for so long. Must be a very powderful pretty hen.

    You’re wrong. Talking about carrying Uncle Sam’s “hairy gonads” now.

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    A mouse trying to roar like a lion…all China need to do is get every Chinese to pee in a cup,pour over SinCity and it will disappear…a “pisai” Dug from a minister’ nose from Taiwan n flick off nFlucj

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  • Harder Truths:

    “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

    ― Albert Einstein

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    wisdom:
    Kishore Mahbubani says, “I know that diplomacy succeeds best when you don’t insult other countries. Indeed, the definition of a diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you feel that you’re going to enjoy the journey to hell. Diplomacy is about subtlety and sophistication. The most effective diplomats are those who avoid insulting other countries and instead always talk politely.”

    You don’t have to be subtle when dealing with arrogant Americunt or chinese corrupt party ccp. You need to hit both of them hard with straight talk.

    Dr Hen is right to talk that way. If I am Dr Hen, I will use even hard hitting words.

    I will say this to the chinese corrupt party:
    Hey you chee bye kia, this is First World Singapore, not china… you don’t yaya papaya here on limpeh turf. Otherwise limpeh will activate my SAF and kick your butt hard…don’t pray pray with limpeh ok

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  • BK:

    @ Sjorne, interesting texture and color of writing (:

    Our nation is entering an era that is most likely chaotic, unlike our previous experiences.

    The US is still enormously powerful and relevant. Its relevance is not just self promoted but desired by many of the smaller nations to counter China’s military assertion into the region.

    The onset of deglobalization, apparent since 2011/12 when global GDP growth decoupled from trade, became a political force with Trump and Brexit. With Covid and the supply chain failure, meant that deglobalization has become a matter of national security and resilience.

    Everywhere you look, it is a world that is going to be less connected. Perhaps, that is a more natural state of affairs.

    While you can see US power waning, the problem is you cannot see China replacing US. This is the strategic dilemma. How to balance between a waning US versus a stronger China that in tone and depth are far from convincing?

    In fact, the signs are China has hit its peak, at least for the medium term. There is evidence of bank runs in rural areas. And instances where people who are perfectly alright find their Covid status changed, in an apparent attempt to stop people from going out.

    Wealth managers will tell you, the millionaires migration is the highest this year. And in absolute numbers, only Russia has more millionaires moving out than China.

    My suspicion is that somewhere in China’s rise, there lurks a potential of political change. And this possibly maybe triggered by a war with Taiwan.

    Singapore must continue to build its food and water security. And redirect more of our investments to SEA. At home, we have to make sure chauvinism of any kind be killed, and to di more to give ballast to the poor.

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    It had always been rambutans ?Author probably get it wrong .Now seems like durian season with selling durian a roaring trade.And the Punggol Plaza basement had a new stall selling durians at really expensive prices with good business earning good profits.And durians prices is expensive everywhere especially mao shan wang brand of durians .Yesterday at Albert hawker centre outside,even mangoes skyrocketed prices previously from $0.80 per mango to $2.50 think per mango.And even Changi Burger King raise its large size coke zero from $3.20 to $3.80 two days back and that is a very sharp increase of $0.60 per large cup of coke zero !And if you see prices of chicken rice still at $3.50 price at hawker stall,and when you ordered a plate of $3.50 chicken rice ,the hawker will tell you it is $4.50 now and that display price is not yet updated only ! Lee Hsien Loong no need to fired Grace Fu,minister of substainability from all government position and hauled out to be charged for unsubstainability prices rises meh ? And when indicated price at hawker stall is not updated ,is that not information minister Josephine Teo Li Min problem ? Wrong price information at hawker centre ! Pui ! Lee Hsien Loong need a whole bunch of useless women MP and ministers for what when all of them do not even highlight in government the society unsubstainability problem !

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    BK: At home, we have to make sure chauvinism of any kind be killed, and to di more to give ballast to the poor.

    This I agreed but let me add this to complete it:

    do more to give ballast to the poor and make them understand that they have to take responsibility for their lives and not always relies on tax payer assistance.

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  • SS:

    Gd evening, BK :)

    The world order is adjusting to such – what is being confused is a decline in US power with a decline in globalization, at least where the US is retreating to its historic strategic stance of isolationism. Indeed the US with less that 5% of global population and 15% of the global economy is becoming increasingly less important to everyone else. What is inevitable is that instead of leading, the US will be following.

    But bad policies, are still in place. The US industrial base has not even begun to rectify one sided trade dependencies. The US trade deficit is still huge. The *real* trade deficit (and therefore her dependency) is much larger than the deficit as measured in dollars, due to the extreme low pricing of imported goods.

    Any company with significant investments in, or dependence upon, China, is already being forced to self censor, and avoid any speech which the CCP does not like, or face threats of huge financial consequence. The list of companies in this situation includes nearly all major media companies, manufacturing companies, investment firms, and large pension funds. This isn’t about bashing China.

    Money is fungible. Globalism, combined with US politicians for sale to the highest bidder, is not a good combination. Also whether US power was an unambiguous and deep promoter of a liberal world order needs to be examined. Singapore is in a very precarious position. Many other small *rambutans* to carry as well, if you get what I mean :)

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  • theforgottongeneration:

    BK:

    My suspicion is that somewhere in China’s rise, there lurks a potential of political change. And this possibly maybe triggered by a war with Taiwan.

    Seems like China knew hard times are coming and it may not be confident to maintain the “feel good” mood of its citizens like past 10-20 years. Its economy is slowing, people get dissatisfied, crisis occur showing policies are not really robust. Hence, the favorite diversion tactic for politicians – turn the focus from INTERNAL problems onto an EXTERNAL (preferably nationalistic) issue, like Taiwan.

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  • BK:

    Yo brothers.

    Singaporeans R Free Riders: This I agreed but let me add this to complete it:

    do more to give ballast to the poor and make them understand that they have to take responsibility for their lives and not always relies on tax payer assistance.

    Yes agree. Cornerstone of giving ballast to poor is indeed responsibility. But there are also issues of imbalance in power in employee-employer/contractor relations. Actually, Im working on these issues with Union and other govt agency to address a segment of these labor.

    SS:
    Gd evening, BK :)

    The world order is adjusting to such – what is being confused is a decline in US power with a decline in globalization, at least where the US is retreating to its historic strategic stance of isolationism. Indeed the US with less that 5% of global population and 15% of the global economy is becoming increasingly less important to everyone else. What is inevitable is that instead of leading, the US will be following….

    Yes. The “liberal order” is more about how ordinary Americans affect the world. Most of the top ten global charities are from US. The State of US is of course another matter.

    I mean, even Gregory Clark revision of Tianamen, he was as far as I read, dependent on “West” sources.

    The general lack of trust in sources from China is a result of blanket censorship, and authentic voices from Chinese that deviate from CCP are curtailed.

    Not sure who US will be following, but it will increasing depend on allies and less likely to be unilateral.

    theforgottongeneration: Seems like China knew hard times are coming and it may not be confident to maintain the “feel good” mood of its citizens like past 10-20 years. Its economy is slowing, people get dissatisfied, crisis occur showing policies are not really robust. Hence, the favorite diversion tactic for politicians – turn the focus from INTERNAL problems onto an EXTERNAL (preferably nationalistic) issue, like Taiwan.

    The data is not good for China. And as Xi enters into 3rd term, his reputation is thinned by the abrasion of Covid, economy and global uncertainty.

    And US under Biden has increasingly needle China on Taiwan, which gives Xi an excuse.

    I think if general recovery dosent come about by 2023, the odds get better that Xi will try Taiwan.

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  • theforgottongeneration:

    BK:

    And US under Biden has increasingly needle China on Taiwan, which gives Xi an excuse.

    I think if general recovery dosent come about by 2023, the odds get better that Xi will try Taiwan.

    Yes, seems Biden also using the diversion tactic on TW/Ukraine because of the mess within USA itself (no thanks to their “democratic” system that allowed Trump to screw things for previous 4 years). Superpower yet can’t even control guns within their own country!

    No need wait till 2023, the next 2Q of 2022 will be critical for the world situation. Did say now appears best opportunity for XJP to act on TW with buddy Putin causing havoc in the West – very difficult for US/allies to maintain armaments to 2 fronts over a sustained period. But XJP also knows China depends on the global economy, hurting it too much only kills himself. Unlike Putin who doesn’t seems to care anything to lose.

    But I leave the global discussion to you guys, SG has more pressing local issues without adding the global economy effect to ourselves. (Maybe Ah Hen also uses rambutan tactic, hor? Politicians.)

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  • China very good:

    What a sad excuse.
    “I am a Western Sheep because China does not tell me everything, because China is a liar.”
    Repeating more of their propaganda.

    In these days when lots of official and ordinary people description of China are online, there is no excuse to continue as a Western Sheep unless these people are unthinking.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    BK: Yo brothers.
    Singaporeans R Free Riders: This I agreed but let me add this to complete it:

    do more to give ballast to the poor and make them understand that they have to take responsibility for their lives and not always relies on tax payer assistance.

    Yes agree. Cornerstone of giving ballast to poor is indeed responsibility. But there are also issues of imbalance in power in employee-employer/contractor relations. Actually, Im working on these issues with Union and other govt agency to address a segment of these labor.

    Hear.. hear..

    We had a responsible individual who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk..

    BK dare to show face and drive the change….this is called responsibility. 開大門走正路

    Just like responsible forummer panyusg who took responsibility for his health because it was his health instead of kpkb that our great PAP must subsidies everything free and they had no responsibility at all.

    Oppie are truly irresponsible idiots who just want to oppose for the sake of opposing only and hide here and hide there…

    These Oppie are irresponsible people who will:
    1. do nothing and just wait to take credit of other people hard work. Think GMS.
    2. visit Beauty Salon for special services and some say Batam too.
    “Sir, would you like to have a very hot service ?”
    https://bit.ly/3Ngrz3F
    18搖
    https://shorturl.at/vEKV3

    All sound minded Singaporeans please print/distribute/share my post.

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  • 007 unions:

    Some unions are very powerful. They have “license to kill”, no, not the employers.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ No need wait till 2023, the next 2Q of 2022 will be critical for the world situation. Did say now appears best opportunity for XJP to act on TW with buddy Putin causing havoc in the West – very difficult for US/allies to maintain armaments to 2 fronts over a sustained period. But XJP also knows China depends on the global economy, hurting it too much only kills himself. Unlike Putin who doesn’t seems to care anything to lose.

    2nd half of 2022 ?

    Or 2023 ?

    Unlikely.

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  • China United:

    There is absolutely no need for China to send its military into the rebel province. Half the people in that province are pleading to join back the mainland. Half the soldiers in Taiwan will defect if there is a war. No need to fight. The Tsai rebel warlord dare not send planes into a war since half will turn their guns on her.

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  • @ China United:

    Conversely China troops also can defect.

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  • Pitch-forked Sinkies:

    BK: Not sure who US will be following, but it will increasing depend on allies and less likely to be unilateral.

    There will be no debate as to whether the U.S. will return to its role as world leader, or whether it will retreat. The US may not have a choice on what path it pursues. Targeting China as the common threat is a lot easier, on the surface. In practice? Talks is easy. Work is hard. China pundits are fond of saying this about Chinese people: “they can eat bitter!” Meaning Chinese endure and strive when facing hardship. What about Americans? Are they willing, able and ready to eat bitter?

    Other players on the global chess board will be making moves that may force the hand of the US, ie: assuming the protection of Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or Australia is considered important. Along with this military realignment, there must be a consensus of Western allies that China is an adversary that does not share western values or aspirations. There must also be a consensus that a majority of the rest of world also doesn’t accept/desire Western-style freedom and human rights.

    If the US abandons the region to its fate, the remaining Asian nations would have to decided whether to accede to Chinese hegemony and shape policy that is favorable to them and not the US, or to possibly embark on a massive military spending increase, creating a security dilemma.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    Eat bitter ?

    Shanghai lockdown and other areas show otherwise.

    You are talking about another era.
    Era where the educated are very low.

    If true China suicide rate would be zero instead of high.

    PRCs wouldnt take knife and slash.
    Nor CCP need to bring someone in for questioning even if he or she just mildly criticise the gov.

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  • BK:

    Yo bro.

    I think where you and I differ is the possibility of a China with an internal political shakeout.

    Increasingly I view this as more likely. The vision of a China with a humanist outlook that is not defined by the CCP.

    And as you have described before, there are many correlations between East and West humanism, although, I think the roots are different.

    (Tu says China has so far not achieved the confidence of a global power and the humanism required for sustainable development, which harkens back to China’s collective memory of shame and humiliation in the Opium Wars.

    The effect of this shame and humiliation has motivated China to modernize and prioritize economic and technological advancements.

    “For China, since the Opium Wars, if you want to find one preoccupation, it is the quest for power. China was so marginalized, so humiliated by Western powers that China believed Westernization was the only path for its modernization.”)

    Tu Weiming, director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201501/30/WS5a2b4f6ba310eefe3e99f99d.html

    And as in article above, the humanism in China seeks to define economic growth beyond GDP. For me, these are the real intellects of China. And in fact, many in the West would be happy to align to a different understanding of progress.

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  • Western fan:

    It is a big propaganda among the west that US and its kakis are spreading western style freedom and human rights. If one looks carefully at history, they are spreading death and destruction.

    Even in their own countries, there is no freedom and human rights. The high level politicians are free from prosecution. Check out Clinton. Actually, all the POTUS have killed innocent, according to US judgement, Americans and others without any criminal charges.

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  • China United:

    Numbers. Every country has desertions and defections. You remember the American soldiers killing their own soldiers? Taiwan cannot fight with 50% defection. How to fight? LKY did not trust even ONE malay soldier.

    @ China United:
    Conversely China troops also can defect.

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  • Pitch-forked Sinkies:

    @ China United:
    Conversely China troops also can defect.

    Most people in China want unification with Taiwan….

    Taiwan has given up its defense to China since DPP party won the presidency in year 2000, and it had passed the laws to downgrade its national military draft, cut its military force by half (to 200,000 active troops) and outsourcing the defense to a voluntary force.

    The current requirement of military draft is only for 4-month services and training, which basically allows for registration, uniform fitting, and a few exercise before discharge. Besides, Taiwan has the one of the lowest birthrate (less than 200,00 born a year) in the world and the highest population of seniors in Asia. There is just not enough new recruits to fill in the ranks.

    It also sharply reduced the retirement benefits to veterans in 2016, which has led to large demonstrations by the veterans outside of the Presidential office in Taipei, especially by retired officers and generals.

    Economics (and peace) might still prevail but it will take cooler heads on both sides. China is unlikely to invade Taiwan unless they do something really stupid like probably arrange to obtain a few nuclear missiles from US.

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  • SS:

    Hardly. China’s amazing rise as an international economic and political (but not yet the military expansionist) country has been done under the centralized structure. China’s 18 dynasties since the Qin have all embraced stronger and stronger centralized control. The Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911 due to their failure to embrace the world. However, centralization has never prevented all of those dynasties from falling into disarray, countless civil wars and peasant rebellions, and corruption at the highest levels of central government.

    There is an ancient Chinese saying that the farther from the emperor, the more the autonomy. I read Scott Moore’s opinion to not correspond to China’s needs: looser structure breeds the weakening of the benefits of unity, both for the Han majority and the culture/economic strengthening of China’s considerable number of minority people.

    There have always been voices of slight opposition in China who are enthralled by western systems, such as adopting western political structures in the 1910s, 20 & 30s. The net result still does not change. Also, one thing to point out is that the current Chinese government system does not even resemble traditional Chinese values. It is a copy-cat of the USSR system, with Party Committees and Party Secretaries sitting in every societal organization. Even university economics department has a “Party Secretary” to oversee research projects.

    The Chinese have been taught to distrust their ‘western imperialists’ (as you opined correctly) and so-called democratic values their whole lives, while embracing China’s centralized system. However, that should not mean that they cannot learn from outsiders.
    Thank you, bro.

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  • @ China United:

    I do remember China killing one another during culture revolution.

    After going thru what you wrote, I sense your level of optimism towards China aren’t really that high.

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