ANOTHER CHINA: Toward a new world order

Asia Times


In the summer 1988 I went back to Europe through Moscow after having been in Beijing for about a year.

I found the Soviet Union in the full swing of reforms. The procedure on arrival at the airport was not too bad and the city was fantastic. The architecture was beautiful, the roads wide and the underground railway so modern. Everything was in sharp contrast to Beijing, which looked run-down, full of grey houses in poor repair lining dirty roads, and with one line of underground railway without escalators.

Even the Moscow taxi driver, a huge, blond Afghan war veteran, could speak some Italian. I felt I was back home, back in Europe, back at my roots.

But it was a false impression.

The day after my arrival, the friend I stayed with wanted to make tomato noodles to celebrate my arrival. She had the noodles from Italy but she had to buy the tomatoes. She told me she could do that the next day because she had nothing to do in the morning. Tomato noodles is an easy dish to make in Italy. It takes just an hour, like Chinese jia jiang mian. So I was a little puzzled as to why my friend would need the whole morning off to make the dish.

The next day, we went out and started queuing for the tomatoes. It took us three hours, running to three or four places, to collect a couple of kilos. I was shocked. So I looked around and noticed something I had missed the day before. In Moscow there were practically no shops, no restaurants, no bars.

Beijing was positively run-down but there was no lack of tomatoes, or of vegetables, meat, clothes. In fact there were huge street markets with hundreds of vendors. Restaurants and bars were sprouting everywhere and everybody was busy trying to buy or sell something. However, few taxi drivers could speak any English, let alone other languages. Less than 2 percent of the Chinese population went to university and only a tiny portion of them had mastered a foreign language.

Most Chinese had so little knowledge of the outside world then that I was often asked if there were poor people in my country. The questioners took it for granted that there could be no poverty in the West.

China had few resources and almost no infrastructure. Its scientific research was decades behind that of the modern world. The Soviet Union, to the contrary, had plenty of resources and infrastructure. Their scientists had collected many Nobel Prizes and their research in many fields outclassed that of the Americans. The population was highly educated. Even high-school pupils could speak English.

To many outsiders it seemed that the only thing holding back Soviet growth was the lack of a proper political system. In 1988, Gorbachev was trying to correct that. He wanted to make full use of Soviet potential by changing the system.

Looking at what was happening in Russia, many Chinese intellectuals wispered, "mei xi", China is hopeless.

About 10 years after the USSR disintegrated, Russia's GDP was about one third that of China, despite the big advantages Russia had earlier appeared to have. In retrospect, in 1988 the USSR was hopeless and China had hopes. The only thing China had that Russia did not have back then were the Chinese people, with their immense energy, and a government capable of harnessing and following that energy.

Still, at the turn of the century, China is tantalized by many issues and questions even bigger than the ones it was facing 13 years ago. Their incorrect handling could create many difficulties.

This work is intended as a sincere look at China's problems from a neutral point of view. It will thus be without the emotional attachment many Chinese feel for their country, and it will also be without the hatred some other people feel for China. Many of the findings might be incorrect, but the look is worthwhile because countries, like people, need someone else to see what is behind them, and a mirror can't be fully trusted for the purpose.


CHAPTER 1: Fun for the masses

1.1 Bread and fun, two levers of appeasement

Since ancient times, China has been highly concerned with the issue of stability. Order is synonymous with welfare, with people having enough to eat and being able to fight and to prevent natural disasters.

In ancient times in the West, governments were also concerned with stability but also took into account the "happiness" of people. In ancient Rome, the government thought the empire needed two things to maintain power and stability: panem et circenses, bread and circuses, amusement. In fact, the system of circuses, of spectacles laid on in each of the large cities for the entertainment of the masses, was an important instrument of rule.

The Roman theater, and the Greek one before it, was an important part of people's lives. Large audiences attended the shows, both rich and poor enjoyed the entertainment. In other words: satisfaction of popular sentiments which went beyond matters of simple survival, like enough to eat, shelter and warm clothing, were considered a fundamental necessity of the people. The remains of Greek and Roman theaters and Roman circuses all over Europe and the Mediterranean, plus a large collection of Greek and Roman plays, prove the importance of entertainment for the ancient Mediterranean empires.

China, however, was almost completely lacking an ancient "entertainment industry". There are no remains of circuses or theaters from the beginning of Chinese recorded history to the end of the Han empire. Rule was based on the idea of keeping order, zhi - a word that indicates an embankment to control water, and connotes a dam against dangerous floods. We will examine later the implications of the problem of water controls. It is important now to underline that the opposite of zhi - luan, total chaos - was a situation in which people did not have enough to eat or to wear, or a shelter, and were threatened by military destruction, so their very survival was at stake.

The traditional task of the government was "simply" to keep zhi and avoid luan. This was not because the government lacked the energy or resources to entertain the masses due to its concentration on the difficult task of water control - a problem which Rome, not a fluvial empire, did not have. In fact, in ancient Chinese writings we do not find any mention that the difficulty of keeping the rivers under control absorbed all the nation's energies so that nothing was left for entertainment. On the contrary, we find an ideological argument, starting with the Mohists (followers of the school of Mozi) around the 3rd century BC, against music, or fei yue, which in a broad sense we can read as a fierce and ideologically motivated attack against entertainment.

"Master Mozi said: The affairs of the magnanimous must be to pursue what procures benefit to the world and eliminates its calamities. If something will be applied as a standard to the world, it will be practiced if beneficial to people, it will be stopped otherwise. As measure for the world the magnanimous will not look at what delights the eye or pleases the ear, gratifies the mouth or eases the body. When these deprive the people of their means to feed and clothe themselves, the magnanimous will not practice them. Therefore the reason why master Mozi opposes entertainment is not because the sound of the big bell, the sounding drum, the seven-string qin and the 25-string she harp, or the yu organ and the sheng pipe are not pleasant. Or because he thinks that the colors and features of the carvings and ornaments are not beautiful ... But all these things do not agree with the deeds of the sage kings of antiquity and do not fit with the interests of the multitude of the common people. Therefore master Mozi said: To have entertainment is wrong." (Mozi Against Entertainment, translation mine.)

From Mozi's words we can see that "entertainment" was considered a state issue, as he goes on to say: "Nowadays, kings, dukes and grandees consider the manufacture of musical instruments [also translatable as 'entertainment tools'] as an undertaking of the state and the large clans. But they [the instruments] can't be produced as easily as evaporating water or digging embankments [ie their manufacture is more difficult than the traditional and necessary toil to control the rivers' waters]. Then, inevitably, heavy taxes should be exacted from the multitude of the common people to obtain the sound of the big bell, the sounding drum, the seven-string qin and the 25-string she harp, or the yu organ and the sheng pipe [which do not contribute to the benefit of the people]."

This suggests that indeed there must have been an early entertainment industry in China, and furthermore Mozi implicitly admits that this industry must have served the masses as he argues that young men and women practicing music will be taken away from plowing and spinning.

"Nowadays, kings, dukes and grandees sit on top of high towers or in grand arbors to watch the bells which are like inverted ceremonial ting vessels. If they are not struck, whereby comes the entertainment? That is to say, the bells must be struck but those who strike them can't be the elderly, who have lost the sense of harmony and have not enough energy. They must be struck by men in their prime, but if that happens it will interfere with the planting and plowing. If women are employed, it will interfere with weaving and spinning. Nowadays, kings, dukes and grandees would waste people's wealth of food and clothing to practice entertainment."

Furthermore, Mozi complains that the rulers enjoy music along with the common people, and both officials and peasants forget their duties in seeking entertainment, neglecting state affairs and ruining society. From these descriptions we can surmise that in ancient China there were some kinds of mass spectacles similar to those of Rome or Athens.

The Mohist argument is logically very sound and from an external point of view it makes sense. To spend time on entertainment takes time away from all other work - court hearings, administration, farming and industry. It is a waste of time which could be better invested in production. In modern times, the argument could be propped up by mathematical calculation of the cost in lost production of each show.

Besides, rulers did not need to give satisfaction to low desires for entertainment, as was the case in Rome. Rule was based on two levers: prizes and punishments, which were to be fairly administered. The virtue of the ruler was the guarantee of the fair administration of prizes and punishments. In fact, whereas politics was not a paramount concern for many ancient Greek thinkers, it was the central point for almost all ancient Chinese philosophers.

As A C Graham points out (The Disputers of the Tao, Open Court 1989, p 372-373), between the second and first century BC "Chinese society was settling into that equilibrium which in spite of all changes it was never quite to lose ..." Furthermore, at about the same time, China developed a tendency to compromise rather than conflict, which also contributed to the overall stability of the system (Graham, op cit, p 378). The end result was a system that boasted uninterrupted continuity for over 2,000 years. These elements made possible a culture that maintained a unified language and a unified historical tradition, in which the official imperial histories reinforced the sense of continuity and unity with the past and dismissed all challenges to continuity and unity as rebellions.

Rebellions themselves never resulted in establishing a dramatically different kind of order, but claimed to establish a new "old order". In other words, all rebel chiefs wanted to become emperors and re-establish the enlightened rule of the past. China's history could thus be described as cyclical. A dynasty would impose itself, wax and wane, and be replaced by another one, almost like a lunar cycle.

Europe, to the contrary, was never able to re-establish the order of the ancient Roman Empire. Even the empire's customs and language broke apart. The Western Empire spoke Latin, the Eastern spoke Greek. The Western Empire was destroyed by barbaric tribes who then tried to re-establish an empire on the Latin tradition. This latter empire was held together by the very force that contributed to the dramatic collapse of ancient Rome: the Church, which replaced the old Roman ideological-religious beliefs with the ones coming from the Middle East.

At about the time (8th-9th century) that Charles the Great was re-founding a Latin empire with the Church's blessings, another Middle Eastern religion, Islam, was sweeping through Asia Minor and North Africa, clashing with the Byzantine empire, heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Muslim culture was fundamental for the creation of the modern European tradition. Greek classic texts were preserved and translated into Arabic by Muslim scribes who transmitted them to the Latin world. This fact created a double puzzle for the "Western" world. Greek tradition was actually transmitted through Arabs, who were in theory at war with Christianity. Not only that, but the Islamic Arabs controlled more than half of the traditional Roman Empire - the part that commanded the Mediterranean, not that of Continental Europe.

In other words, Europeans who wanted to trace their ancestry to Greece, the Middle East (the cradle of Christianity), or the Mediterranean Sea (the cradle of Roman fortunes), had to try to forget that all this was in the hands of their sworn enemies, the Muslims. Arguably, this awkward situation reinforced the need for a more sophisticated approach to what we might define now as "ideological work". The other side of music or circuses is political propaganda: it reinforces in direct or indirect ways the loyalty of subjects to the ruler.

1.2 Ruling the past

China certainly developed theater at later stages of its history, but we do not have evidence that in antiquity these forms of entertainment played a role comparable to that of theater and circus in Rome or Greece. Without mass shows, China conversely developed an organic literature which passed on the accepted tradition.

By Han times this effort was crystallized in historical works that told the official, orthodox view of the past and thus projected the true road for the future. The work of Sima Qian stands as the model of ideology that was then followed for some 2000 years. Sima Qian expunged or openly criticized all ideas he objected to. Moreover, these conflicting ideas were not preserved, so we can't read them and form a different opinion on what occurred in the past.

Historical records became the main force tying China to its past and to its future. Before Sima Qian, Confucius in the Lun Yu quoted the shu, by which he meant the historical writings of which the extant shang shu are just a part. He also quoted the poetry, shi, and the rites, li, of which we have traces in the Shijing and the Zhouli. In other words, according to Confucius tradition and orthodoxy were retained in a complex mass of material which, at the time, arguably was not systematized. This complex tradition was the background that made possible the theory of rectification of names. Only because Confucius mastered the past tradition was he able to point to the real content of the names of roles such as "father", "master", "son", and "servant".

The idea behind the rectification of names was that people had to share the same system of values. This thought was further developed and argued by Confucius's first opponent, Mozi, in the Shangtongpian: "At the beginning of time, when there were no right chiefs, every person in the world had his own idea about what was right. One person had one idea, then 10 persons 10 ideas, 100 persons 100 ideas; the more the people, the more their so-called ideas of what was right. Therefore, each considered his own idea right and fought against other people's ideas, and everybody was against anybody ... It was clear that the world was in chaos because there were no chiefs who would unify the ideas of what is right in the world." (Shang tong bian zhong, translation mine)

Here the Mohist does not simply present an impressionistic dismay over the chaos of the times, as Confucius did, but goes back to imagining the origin of human organization, saying that without unified principles there would be chaos, and he also describes this chaos: a war of everybody against everybody. Anybody's life is at stake and it is in everybody's interest to select the ablest of all to rule the country. And if the ruler is the ablest, his own thought will unify the thought of the common people.

Many issue remain open in Mozi. One big question mark is, how are the ablest people supposed to be selected? However, what is important here is that Mozi presented the first logical justification for the birth of a bureaucratic state, and the necessity for its ideological unity. This ideological unity is not provided by writings, poems and rites as in Confucius, but simply by the thought of the ruler. This is a much simpler operation than the one presented by Confucius. Writings, poems and rites may be interpreted in different ways, and may also present contrasting ideas; this will give rise to different opinions and thus break up the ideological unity of the state. To avoid this and maintain ideological unity, China's first emperor burned all books expounding different ideas.

The work of Sima Qian, with its systematization, is thus a synthesis of the two approaches, the Confucian and the Mohist-legalist. He unifies tradition, as Mohists and legalists wanted, but he does so through the writings, as Confucians wanted. The orthodoxy of the writings would be a bond for both the people and the ruler. In other words, with the Mohist-legalist approach the ruler was free to rule as he pleased, and the ruled had to follow him; with the Confucian approach the ruler was bound by writings. Sima Qian's approach gave the ruler scope for manipulation of the past, but after manipulation he was bound by his own writings, which would be taken as a standard to check the people but also to check the ruler's own actions.

By trusting the historical writings with the important task of what these days would be called "propaganda work", China took a different direction than ancient Rome.

The Chinese masses were excluded from direct indoctrination, which was administered to intellectuals who had to undergo years of tough training in the hope of becoming officials. This served various purposes. It cut the intellectual link between upper and lower classes: the former were "privileged" to undergo massive indoctrination, the latter were deprived of it. This severance of the systemic link between upper and lower classes inserted a structural impediment against rebellions.

The masses were thus to be ruled through punishments, because they could not understand, and the intellectuals were to be ruled by rites because they could understand and, within certain limits, could be reformed. (Of course, if they went too far they had to be simply uprooted, killed).

The indoctrination worked so well that for thousands of years rebellions were based on challenges not to the logic of the rule, but to the ruler himself. Rebel leaders claimed the ruler was not restricted and was not abiding by the very rules he had manipulated. The masses likewise blamed the ruler, not the rule, and followed rebel leaders as they would follow the ruler - there was no difference. An enormous number of historical examples prove this point. And the system worked so neatly that it was not upset by numerous barbarian invasions and conquests.

Europe underwent only one massive barbarian invasion, that which brought about the fall of the Roman Empire and kept Europe in a state of underdevelopment for hundreds of years until the Italian Renaissance rediscovered - through the Arab world - its Greek roots. China was twice completely swept by barbarian invasions, first by the Mongols, then by the Manchus. But both times the "barbarians" soon adopted all the customs of the Chinese. In fact, they were largely sinicized even before they successfully managed to conquer and rule China: sinification was the necessary first step to conquest.

In all of this, entertainment of the Western type was largely marginal - so marginal that even admired novels were considered a lower form of art, below the status of intellectual accomplishment.

1.3 Mao's culture for the masses

It was like this until the West impacted on China. That impact proved for the first time in 2,000 years that China's ideological stabilizing system did not work, or rather, as we shall see, it did not work fully. For the first time, foreign invaders did not adapt themselves to China, but wanted the Chinese to adapt themselves to the Western world. Furthermore, the invaders introduced two sides of their culture: the official ruling one and the culture of the opposition which wanted to change the world. The two sides basically coexisted peacefully with each other, or at least the ruling side did not vow to exterminate the opposition. Thirdly, these cultures were not aimed at a limited number of the elite who had to undergo difficult training, but massively involved all people. Popular spectacles like sports, as despised by the Mohists, were enjoyed by both upper and lower classes.

Social mobility in the Western system did not come about through a difficult process of education, which entailed indoctrination in the state's values, but could happen through ordinary accumulation of wealth, which even "ignorant" people - those who had not been through official indoctrination - could manage. Through accumulation of wealth, people were accepted into the upper classes, to which they brought new ways of thinking - new because they came without the brainwashing of an education system.

For the first time in 2000 years, China saw the reality of a heterodox system working better than their orthodox one.

The victory of the Communist Party, and in particular of Mao Zedong's leadership, was made possible by the full understanding of these new values and how to properly use them. Li Shulei has argued (1942, Towards the People, Beijing 1998) that one of the major weapons that allowed Mao's triumph in Yanan was the organization of classes and schools for high and low cadres. There, Mao passed on new political instruction. Furthermore, he expanded and systematized the system of alphabetization and a system of indoctrination of the masses. For the first time in Chinese history, the common people were the first subject of political campaigns: they had to be convinced, in the same way as their comrades in Europe or elsewhere.

This also demanded mass spectacles, which were performed by a special army unit. The new operas, the new motion pictures, the new plays all followed from Mao's intuition that propaganda had to seep through every cell of society. The simplification of the Chinese characters, the change of writing, the adoption of a common language, were all steps toward mass involvement in education. The propaganda work was at times naive, but overall it followed the standards of the world's other communist parties: crude, relatively unsophisticated concepts that could be fully grasped by ignorant and prejudiced people were expounded.

This effort was coupled by the penetration of the party into every layer of society, something that was also unprecedented. At the end of 1700, the Chinese empire had about 100,000 graduated officials for a population of some 300 million. In fact, officials traditionally ruled only down to county level; below that, administration was left in the control of power families. Officialdom thus functioned as did education under the imperial system: it concentrated on controlling the leaders of society and left to them the control of smaller social units, without directly interfering with society. Of course, because social leaders were fully integrated in the system and shared its values, they had a very concrete stake in preserving order. But they also had leeway in bending central orders according to their best local interests.

Thus the central government was always concerned about fine-tuning order, checking on freewheeling local chiefs but being careful too not to meddle over much in local affairs. Too much localization, it was understood, would drain the state's resources and over-inflate its administration, making the administration difficult to control - something that could cause far more damage than some instances of localized chaos.

In 1949 the Communist Party liberating China had about 1 million members out of a population of over 400 million people. It thus had a much higher proportion of officials than the Qing empire had. The party had also vowed to educate, ie directly control, the masses, and so it expanded the number of officials faster than the growth of the population. At the end of 1990s, the party had almost 70 million members in a population of 1.3 billion - a ratio of about one party member for every 20 people! In other words, for the first time in Chinese history the central state reached into every small social entity, and every entity had a direct link with the top leadership, without the mediation of local heads.

Ideological indoctrination was also made easier by the spread of new mass media, newspapers and radio. But more importantly, what Mao did was introduce the first massive Westernizing of Chinese society: he largely switched the system of power control from the traditional one using mandarins to one directly involving the people. In a way, every Chinese could hope for social promotion, and that gave the people pride and dignity quite different from that of, say, Indian society. The pride and drive for improvement of the ordinary Chinese peasant was in a way comparable to that of his fellow in the United States.

Mao created an alltogether new ball game. The traditional mandarin order was gone, schools and universities, although not enrolling enough students by Western standards, were educating far more people than during the system of imperial examinations. The popular shows, theaters, and then movies, radio, newspapers and eventually television, satellites, VCDs and the Internet, brought culture to the masses, and brought the masses within walking distance of Beijing.

This was not simply the result of technological advance. It was the result of Mao's revolution which carried out and expanded a trend of the May Fourth movement. Evidence that technology itself is not enough but requires a complex change in education and propaganda can be seen in the case of India. There, with structures modeled on the British ones, with better infrastructure than in China, the peasants are much more backward than their Chinese counterparts and do not have the same pride. In India, a slow change is taking place with the spread of popular movies and television which, however, started much later than in China and was not strongly linked to a myth of national and personal emancipation as in China.

In a way, without different religions, without a caste system, with common people who were led to believe for decades they were the masters of the world, and in a cultural melting pot where anybody who speaks Chinese like a Chinese is Chinese, Chinese society is more similar to that of the United States than that of India. Yet, many aspects of China's largely Westernized society are still ruled in a way resembling the old imperial system. This does not work and creates constant conflicts, and therefore instability in China.

1.4 An unstable stability

From a first, impressionistic view, Chinese propaganda is highly concerned with stability, yet the country in the past 50 years has been highly unstable. It has been unstable in a different and more acute way than Western countries.

In the West, instability is an everyday reality. Political regimes can change at any time, presidents and prime ministers fall and rise with meteoric speed. However, these political upheavals do not imply a fundamental social instability. At the end of the day, after the president has resigned everybody goes back home and does not think that because of the change their jobs or their homes are at risk. This sense of personal insecurity because of political waves wasn't felt either during massive social upheavals, for example when Europe was engulfed in fierce political unrest in the 1970s. Back then, people's lives were threatened by sometimes violent demonstrations and reactions by the authorities. But nobody believed his house would be taken away.

In other words, in the West there was a distance between political upheavals and their personal and social impact. Such a distance did not exist in China, and the social boat rocked much more violently than in the West when political power struggles broke out.

The effort of reaching out to hundreds of millions makes more difficult the task of spreading a consistent set of ideas. With limited numbers, the center can control how people react to central ideas, and it can open a fairly easy dialogue with the periphery. With larger numbers, not only is it much harder to conduct this dialogue, but even controlling how instructions are interpreted becomes much more difficult. In China, constant exaggeration in the local application of rules coming from above derives from this structural problem.

The rigid chain of command of the imperial past worked because it was limited and did not reach out to millions, so that ordinary people's lives remained untouched by the normal, constant political strife at the top. The "Westernized" chain of command of modern China, which reaches out to all people, if handled too rigidly keeps normal people in a constant state of instability that ultimately destabilizes the central power.

The 40 years from 1949 to 1989 are proof that this system is inherently inconsistent and destabilizing. Every power struggle at the top translated itself into mass movements that shook the lives of millions. The interest in politics of ordinary Chinese people is a consequence of this: a new turn in a power struggle could mean promotions or demotions, even life or death, for millions, so everybody must be concerned. Even disregarding the major upheavals of the period - the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the fall of the Gang of Four, numerous rather "minor" events brought down million of people whose involvement in those events was peripheral.

A great change in this attitude occurred after the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square event. In spite of the massive check on individual involvement in the pro-democracy movement, there was no major crackdown and punishment. The state also started withdrawing from its attentive involvement in personal lives, and people gained more personal freedom that translated into more social freedom, more economic freedom and more freedom of expression. After 1992 and the 14th party congress, this trend became even more marked, with the new leadership working to re-evaluate and promote people who were formerly involved in the June 4 movement.

This trend is making the Chinese less interested in politics. Changes at the top do not have a direct impact on their lives as in the past, and so the situation has become more stable. The fall of Beijing party mayor Chen Xitong in 1995 and the demise of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1997 passed with relatively little fuss. Yet the relationship between politics, the economy, and society remains very strong - much stronger than in other modern countries.

Political risk is still a paramount criterion in foreign financial risk assessment of China, but it is minimal in Western European countries or North America. In the West, it matters little who is president as major policies will continue unchanged, whereas in China it is very important who is president or prime minister. In the West, political structures hold the weight of most political decisions, and politicians are merely the drivers, under tight limits, of the political and economic engine - an engine they may fine-tune but not tamper with. This feature of the West makes it much better suited to the effort of mobilizing and involving the masses in the political process, as Mao did. But keeping the masses always involved in politics makes politics unstable. On the other hand, it is impossible to totally exclude the masses from the political process. Therefore, keeping them satisfied and so reducing their involvement is a practical compromise.

In China, politicians have the task of driving the country, but they are also engineers who constantly tamper with the political and economic engine. Stability could thus be provided by a major political re-engineering in which to count more, people have to count less. Modern delegate democracy is a ready-made instrument for this need. Under this system, people are called every four or five years to make a choice, and in making their choice they voluntarily give up all their political powers for a given time. Provided their welfare is taken care of during that time, they have no right, and they will not, interfere with the day-to-day running of the country. Their political power on the other hand is much stronger, because it has more legitimacy and authority. The voters of a country thus impose the will, and the interests, of the majority on the minority, without having constantly to try to find broad consensus.

In China after the death of Mao, and even more after the death of Deng, all decisions are collective, and the head of each decision group is a first among equals. This creates an inefficient decision-making process. The leader has always to look for consensus, which has to be as broad as possible, to ensure that tasks will be actually performed. But this is time-consuming and inconsistent with the fast growth of an economy.

So, under the surface of constant instability, Western society is much more stable than Chinese. A trend toward the Western system is under way in China now and could be strengthened further over the coming years. The drive away from the old system is mirrored by a different structural approach to law. Particular control systems entail particular laws, so changing the system entails changing the laws. Or vice versa, if you wish. (2001-03-17 Asia Times)


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