Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not meaning to bum-rush China...

but this particular happening came up during my morning crawl through comic news. It's not terribly surprising, but I'm always astonished how wholesale copying can be now, at least James Fry and the Stephen Glass and the like made stuff up--this is like that Opal Mehta nonsense with Mad Libs plagiarism. Not exactly lazier, I guess, since printing and layout is resource consuming. But damn. It reminds me that I have a friend who was based in Hong Kong for a while, as a lawyer, and looking to work in China specifically with intellectual property, but didn't stay for, amongst other reasons, the complete lack of IP law/enforcement/basis of trying that specialization in China right now.

But in the midst of all this pent-up bad Chinaness, I wanted to point to a Slate piece (which I can't find right now, but I will) that put should put some of their development in context (which, I'm sorry, I can't resist, is not something the Chinese media is every involved in doing). Namely that while the process of modernizing China is inarguably flawed , this is an undertaking that has dragged the largest mass of humanity out of poverty ever. The scale doesn't excuse the Reign of Terror style of politics that has often emerged, but likewise it's an achievement on its own merits.

Actually, I mostly think that economic development, Communism (not that they're really so Communist anymore) did force the leveling of gender rights in China. I doubt it's equal, much as it isn't in the U.S., but given the extremely male-centric culture there's been a lot down for women's rights by China. Whether this will progress into a leadership and advocacy role when the economic gains by such moves aren't so obvious (or even develop into self-awareness of it) is in question. Imagine if the Edison Chen stupidness had provoked a discussion about the obviously skeevy at best(consenting adults aside) fact that a popular and influential male star took advantage of his position over more than half a dozen women, and will likely be the only one with a career after.

Or if instead of responding to the U.S. State Department's annual list of human rights violations, China responded with not a relatively week list of America's own, but statistics about the millions they can raise out of poverty? I mean, when Chinese achievements aren't "scientists" scraping off the Intel logo off microchips.

Oops, sorry, can't help it.


Chengora said...

You know, I think I responded to a response to the article you're referring to:


The crux of my point was that economic advancement - while good - can't be considered a human right. Too many intervening factors. You can be the best economic steward around, but if the price of rice quadruples, that doesn't mean that you're directly or necessarily responsible for the damage it caused to people's lives.

But for issues like torture, the state has complete power and responsibility over those situations. In that case, if torture occurs, you can definitely blame someone.

You know, a lot of the Chinese blogs now are talking about how their political system is the best in the world for seeing the country through 30 years of growth. Maybe Hobs can shed some light on whether that really is so impressive given the economic damage done by the Cultural Revolution and especially the Great Leap Forward (which are absent from the Chinese blog discussions). Either way, I feel like saying it's been 30 years of development ignores the fact that they were purposefully depressing their economy for 20-30 years before that.

Jonny America said...

I think China is generally given credit for its economic successes. Its just that mainlanders get disappointed when this and other sucesses are not repeated over and over again in western media, at least not as much as the ususal talking points about human rights etc...

But your point about China's remarkable improvement on women's rights is noted. The communists should also be given credit for smashing the horrible feudal class system that existed well into the 40's. There is also the issue of opium addiction, the national scourge, which was eliminated within a decade's time, expansion of education (at least literacy) and health care into the countryside.

But, you can't expect western media to bring this stuff up all the time, because all westerners are white racists who hate China. You should be ashamed, everybody, for burning down the Summer Palace in the at the turn of last century.

Also, you invaded Iraq.

hcduvall said...

Well, they should've tried some of that genetically endowed gung-fu to beat the imperialists. Like when Jet Li catches that bullet in OUaTiC? Damn, I still don't know how China lost.

Oh wait, it's cause they did try. Right.

Jonny America said...

I have to follow Chengora's lead and try to find a way to take a break from Tibet/China/nationalism news for a while.

Man, angry nationalists have even invaded my small circulation China studies e-mail newsletter. "Why do you hate us?!!" [shudder]