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For over two years ocean rocks have dominated China’s foreign policy issues. So far the Party has managed to anger virtually all their neighbors and has left an opening for America’s pivot to Asia. In my opinion, regardless of whether or not China’s claims are valid, the gov’t seems to be losing the battle on the international stage. One afternoon when I was chatting with a typically soft-spoken co-worker about my future plans in the Pacific, she pointed out the Philippines on the map and said, “I hope the ocean swallows this country up so that China doesn’t have to destroy it.” As I picked my jaw up off the floor, she elaborated, “Since I was a little girl, these little islands have been a […]


Last December as soon as I started tweeting and getting to know Twitter’s Chinese community, I was shaken by the news of two men—Chen Wei (陈卫) and Chen Xi (陈西) –being sentenced for nine and ten years in prison, respectively, for writing pro-democracy articles. Even though I was no fan of the Chinese communist party, it seemed to me utterly preposterous that in the 21st century China was still locking people up for thought crimes while it postured itself on world stage as a great power and tried to exert influence. All of a sudden, I was guilt-stricken by everything I enjoyed and took for granted, such as the sunlight slanting across my dining table and the morning peace enveloping me. Then again, shouldn’t there be a few […]


Over the past three days we’ve had a chance to look at the full version of the story the Party tells about China’s past 170 years. I divided it into three sections that weren’t broken up in the National Museum, but that allowed reflection on logical chunks – The Opium war up to the founding of the Republic; The founding of the Party through the Mao years; and finally, 30 years of opening up. I wanted to wait to comment on the text until you all had had a chance to read it and form some of your own impressions (which I hope you’ll share below). The first thing that I noticed from the exhibit was that China’s default status in the world is “glorious,” […]


…Continued Ushering in a new era of development in the cause of socialism 5.1 The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee was a significant transition in the history of the party and the state since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. the CPC central collective leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping as its core throroughly reviewed the lessons from its experience in socialist construction, emancipated their minds, sought truth from facts, made the historic decision to shift the focus of the Party and country’s work to economic development and to implement reform and opening up, laid out the Party’s basic line for the primary stage of socialism and the three-step strategy for modernizing the country, created Deng Xiaoping Theory and blazed […]


…Continued from part 1 An earth-shattering event 3.1 The imperialist powers invasion shattered China’s dream of learning from the West. The October Revolution in Russia sent Marxism to China and cause progressive Chinese to turn their attention from the West to the East, and from bourgeois democracy to socialism. The May 4th Movement furthered the spread of Marxism, and the working class appeared on the stage of history as an independent political force. The integration of Marxism with the workers movement gave  birth to the CPC. The founding of the CPC was an earth-shattering even that brought new vitality to the Chinese revolution. Searching for a new path for the Chinese revolution 3.2 After its founding, the CPC relied on and mobilized workers and peasants, […]


The following is copied word for word from the exhibit “The Road to Rejuvenation” at The Chinese National Museum in Beijing (and as far as I know has not been published online prior to this). The exhibit focuses on China’s history from 1840 to the present. The Chinese National Museum reopened in March 2011, offering the most official and most recent account of China’s history as told by the Communist Party (for more on the museum I recommend this excellent NYT piece about the difficulties the Party had in agreeing on how the past should be portrayed). This is the story taught to hundreds of millions of Chinese students; it shapes every discussion of China’s future. I hope this series of posts will help foster discussions of […]


After reading an article about the myriad problems facing China’s health system, I asked the doctors in my medical English class to briefly reflect on the system based on their own ideas and opinions. Of the 17, 15 doctors wrote that China’s system faced serious challenges. The following are excerpts from their papers that I think accurately reflect the challenges currently facing China’s health. I have not fact checked them, and in some cases I’m fairly certain they aren’t accurate, but that the doctors believe these statistics is revealing. This one echoed many of the main points of the other doctors. “For patients, medical services are too expensive. It is said that the average cost is about 500 yuan for a common cold in a […]


Last week Weibo was swept up in rumors of a completely imagined coup in Beijing (Yaxue covered the extent of the madness excellently). It seems that this week is bringing yet another wave of crazed speculation, again involving former star Bo Xilai, as well as an international man of mystery, and most of Bo’s family (NYT coverage or the more entertaining and similarly accurate movie version). For me the question has nothing to do with whether or not these rumors bare any resemblance to what has actually happened (they probably don’t), the big question is why aren’t these rumors being squashed like a bug? There are several possibilities. While nobody really knows the answer, my Chinese friends have assured me that “this is absolutely not normal”. Weibo has come off […]


With the holidays I know that many of you have taken a break from the internet to spend time with your families, but the Chinese gov’t realizes this too, slipping 3 State subversion trials of dissidents into the final week of the year in the hopes that foreign media will miss the story (and one very mysterious broken probation). Due to the number of links this week, I’ve only added a few comments. China jails dissident 10 years for subversive essays Why isn’t the West reacting to China’s crackdown Draft law prohibits citizens who may endanger national interests from leaving country – This story has not been widely reported on outside of People’s Daily, but would essentially allow China to keep any dissidents from speaking out […]


The China Quarterly recently released it’s top ten most downloaded articles for free. Over the next few weeks I’ll summarize and comment on a few of these great articles (and save you 20+ pages of reading). Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries By: Yang Kuisong (link to full text) Tom’s Summary: Yang begins his article with the assertion that, “Power seized by violence must be maintained by violence.” The first example of this violence came just one year later with the start of the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries. The program was aimed at consolidating the Party’s power over the country that was continuing to struggle with actual counterrevolutionaries (these were actual KMT agents acting to disrupt Party control). There were wide spread reports of arson and […]


Over the past few days I’ve pointed out some of the major issues revolving around the hukou system. So I thought it was important to establish why it is that the hukou system won’t be changing anytime soon, despite the ongoing discussions of how to change it. Surprisingly the hukou system is not something that was dreamed up by the communist party as a way to control the masses (which is how it sounds to most Americans I’ve talked with), it is actually a modified version of household registration that has been a part of China for thousands of years. The original system was also used to restrict the movement of people, and to remove “troublemakers”. The modern system in the 1950’s was used as […]


It’s no secret that China is a massive country that is changing at incredible speeds, and so it seems that even 5 days a week isn’t enough to cover everything that is happening in the middle kingdom. So I am very pleased to announce the launch SeeingRedInChina.com’s weekend section. It will have posts focusing on (mis)adventures in China, a brief round-up of the week’s news stories with a brief explanation of why they matter, as well as opinion pieces, guest posts, and hopefully some interviews. My good friend Casey will be kicking things off on Saturday as he starts to tell the story of his first trip to China, and his time spent working in what has to be the absolute worst school in China. […]


I apologize, but today you get a little China rant. Our News Story of the Week today looks at an article that argued China should not have an independent judiciary (something argued for by the Jasmine Protestors). In that article the author called China a democracy THREE times! Another article also praised villagers in their attempts at democracy. This of course just days after the 3rd in command gave a speech saying China would never be a western style democracy with multiparty elections. So when this author says “democracy” he is referring to the fact that in the last few years the Chinese gov’t has listened to what the people want, when it agrees with what they are already doing, or if it enables them […]


It seems that despite my thorough explanation of why China is not a rich country, even though it has the second highest GDP in the world, major governments have started to cut aid to China. The UK’s department for distributing foreign aid actually had it’s budget grow by 1/3 this year, so it’s not just budgetary reasons for cutting their aid to China. The argument is simple, a country growing 10% a year is not in need of foreign aid.Japan has been a major mover of money in China’s direction, since 1979 they have given over $40 billion to China. They made an argument similar to the UK’s this morning, why should they be giving aid to a country that has a larger GDP than […]


I’ve watched a few China themed movies lately and wanted to make a couple of recommendations for this very snowy winter. The Painted Veil – This isn’t historical, but it is a pretty great glimpse of what life in rural China would have looked like around 1900. The movie is about a doctor who accepts a position in the countryside treating an epidemic. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts give good performances. definitely worth a watch. I must admit that I’m a bit partial to this movie because it was filmed just a few miles from Yizhou, where I lived for a year. China: A Century of Revolution – This one can be a bit daunting at first, all 3 parts total up to 6 hours of documentary […]


Continued from Yesterday The following post was written by one of my Chinese friends who is an active member of the Communist Party. What the Party Means to Me To me, any nation or ethnic group shares one common ideal so that they could be united, fighting for the same goal, such as racial superiority (Tom’s note: this is not a “loaded” term in Chinese), or the same religion. And in China, it has always been moralism. I don’t mean that Chinese people enjoy the noblest morals; it is just that we always try to act upon the unique moral standard which is widely-accepted in the country so that Chinese cultural has survived a long time. By the end of the Republic of China, the […]


A few weeks ago I wrote a post where I commented that the Communist Party doesn’t interfere with my daily life for the most part. That was accurate. However it should also be modified, since the party is ubiquitous (American’s can’t even pretend that what we have is ‘big government’ by comparison). After looking at that chart it should be no surprise that today in China there is 1 government official for every 40 people. My thought is that this is at least partially an effort to limit unemployment. Even though there have been Party officials at every place I have worked, I’m still not really sure what it is they do. At the hospital we have two offices for Party leaders. According to Grace […]


Yesterday’s look at why one person didn’t join the Party gives us a good starting point for looking at what the Party actually is, and how it fits into China’s government system. I’ve asked many of my friends and students over the past few years why they joined the Party, the most common answer the students give is that being a party member will help them get a better job, which is true. The author of yesterday’s post has pretty much reached the pinnacle of his career since he is unwilling to join the party. Also, once a teacher is a Party member, they will almost never be at risk of losing their job. Other students said their parents wanted them to join the Party. […]


The following post was written by one of my friends. In this slightly longer piece I asked him to write for the blog, he explains why he decided against joining the Communist party. English is not his first language, so please accept that there are a few grammar problems, but his word choice is very accurate. In the next week or so there should be another piece by a different friend as to why he did join the party. If you have any comments or questions for him, just post them below. Tomorrow I’ll be writing a short follow-up to this piece. The Boss and Me When I start to talk about why I don’t join the Communist Party of China, I should start with […]


Now I know this is more of an edgy topic, but it’s one of the issues which generates the most anger and confusion amongst Americans when they think of China. First a little history: China has always had a large, mostly rural, population. As it is everywhere, farmers in China also tended to have large families to help with the work. Up to the 1950’s it was common practice for families to have 6-10 children, many of whom would die before their fifth birthday. On top of the high infant mortality rate there was the Japanese invasion, and then a civil war that kept China’s population from growing despite the birth rate. Needless to say, when the communists finally won control of the mainland, life […]


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