Start by taking reflection quiz:
Themes for exploration:
Brief written reflection:
Take a moment for a brief written reflection:
Notes on Chinese language:
Making a case:
Drawing upon the articles you read for homework and the materials from units 5 and 6, complete this chart (Google Doc) examining the case for and against imprisoning Liu Xiaobo.
How should we weigh sources like The New York Review of Books against Xinhua (the official press agency of the People's Republic of China)? Should we treat them as equally credible? Why or why not?
How should the sources above be handled in comparison with primary sources, e.g. Liu Xiaobo’s essays and the court’s judgments?
Which sources missing from our reading selection last night would you like to see to be able to make a better judgment about Liu Xiaobo?
Liu Xiaobo declares that “I have no enemies, no hatred. . . . I hope that I can answer the regime’s enmity with utmost benevolence, and can use love to dissipate hate.” (Liu, 322-23). What other historical figures does he seem to draw inspiration from in making such a statement? In your view, is he more or less likely to succeed than these figures? Why?
What can we establish as Liu Xiaobo’s view of the West’s relationship to China? Does this draw into question his patriotism? Is it significant for Liu to be patriotic? Why or why not?
Liu Xiaobo suggests that “crude nationalism is being whipped up from time to time to distract attention from more disturbing issues.” (Leys) How does this claim fit with your understanding of Osnos’s description of the “Angry Youth”?
Liu also points out that the younger generation “has no patience at all for people who talk about suffering in history. . . . A huge Great Leap famine? A devastating Cultural Revolution? A Tian’anmen massacre? All of this criticizing of the government and exposing of the society’s ‘dark side’ is, in their view, completely unnecessary.” (Leys). What are the costs and benefits of facing difficult histories? Would it be better to focus this energy on developing skills relevant for the future – say, economics or computer programming?
Perhaps more controversially, Liu also cites “sexual indulgence” as a “handy partner for a dictatorship,” arguing that together with the problem greed, China is facing “the moral collapse of a society that has been emptied of all values.” (Leys). What do you make of this claim?
One further point was, as Leys summarizes, “any action can be justified if it upholds the dictatorship or results in greater spoils.” (Leys). Assuming for a moment that Liu is correct, is it reasonable to argue that the means of authoritarianism justify the ends of stability and economic growth?
On December 25, 2008, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to eleven years in prison and “the deprivation of political rights for two years. The court’s judgment read, in part: “It is the judgment of this court that Defendant Liu Xiaobo, with the goal of overthrowing the state power of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship and the socialist system of our country, took advantage of the Internet with its features of rapid transmission, broad reach, large influence on society, and high degree of public notice…. His actions have constituted the crime of incitement to subvert state power, have persisted through a long period of time, and show deep subjective malice. The articles that he posted, which spread widely through links, copying, and visits to websites, had a despicable influence. He qualifies as a criminal whose crimes are severe and deserves heavy punishment according to law. . . . Liu Xiaobo’s actions have exceeded the scope of freedom of speech and constitute crimes.” (Liu, 337-38).
Unit 6 is linked closely with unit 5 in the sense that both deal with politics and political formations. The difference here is in perspective. Whereas unit 5 considered the political structures and policymaking from the inside and the top, this unit will examine politics from the outside and the bottom. Likewise, where our previous interest had been largely understanding the political process, in this unit we will look at instances where its outcomes are challenged by groups or individuals.
Mini case study. Select one of the following stories to read and present to the class.
You are part of a policy working group researching some of the most sensitive policy issues for the party. For this assignment, you have been tasked with reviewing a handful of foreign articles from the Opposing Viewpoints in Context book series and researching the arguments presented. Comrade Xi Jinping himself has asked you to draw on this information to present the best possible case for – and against – democratization in China.
The Chinese Communist Party should embrace democratic reform in the People’s Republic of China. In this context, we will define democracy as governance by represents selected by openly contested elections as well as protections of common liberal rights like free press, free speech, and equal protection under law.
First, we will work together on a collective Google Doc to review the key arguments and evidence from each text. (20 minutes during class).
Second, you will work individually on a guided research (Google Doc) on the issues identified during this process. Our goal is for each of us to utilize at least one book and one book review for this exercise. (20 minutes in class plus up to an hour for homework).
Third, on Wednesday, you will be assigned randomly to teams to argue either for or against the statement. (approximately 30 minutes of planning time in class, 30 minutes for debate, with the remaining time reserved for debriefing).
View 22:45-23:30 Laobaixing express support for the party
View 56:14-57:25 Mayor Geng examines obstacles
Is Mayor Geng’s approach to corruption and incompetence likely to resolve the challenges preventing implementation of his vision? Why or why not?
How does the process of negotiation in this documentary compare with the picture presented by Philip Pan? Do you think residents featured in this documentary are treated fairly or unfairly? Why?
Thinking back to unit 3, how would you answer the question raised by one of the Datong residents in the film, “If Mao was still alive, dare he do this?”
View 23:35-26:00 Mayor Geng’s goals
Evaluate Mayor Geng’s development strategy. What are the major factors influencing your evaluation?
Do the following quotes support or complicate your initial conclusions? Would you choose to visit Datong if you were traveling in China? Why or why not?
Mayor Geng’s plan was projected to cost as much as 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) over six years, most of which was debt financed.
Why do you think Mayor Geng was transferred to the provincial capital of Taiyuan? Was this a promotion? What consequences might it have had for the people of Datong?
Today’s class will be dedicated to open discussion on McGregor’s The Party. Questions below will guide our discussion and may be amended or supplemented based on your interests:
Writing in your journal, you will have ten minutes to provide quick answers to 8 of the following 9 questions. Aim to spend about one minute per question, knowing you have two minutes extra for “wiggle room.” Your response should include a brief response and a one-sentence justification for that answer, to be elaborated further around the table.
View selections from:
Last class we began examining David Harvey’s perspective on China’s economic growth, and today we have a somewhat overlapping perspective from Justin Yifu Lin, Peking University professor and former Chief Economist at the World Bank.
We should pause to note Lin’s remarkable personal background (recounted by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker article “Boom Doctor”). Lin was born on Taiwan in 1952 and attended the nation’s top-ranking National Taiwan University where he was a student activist known for his nationalism (Taiwan should reclaim its lost UN seat, he argued). Before completing his first year at university, he transferred to a military academy and then went on to serve as a company commander on Jinmen (Quemoy) island at the front lines of Taiwan’s conflict with the People’s Republic. There,
. . . Lin’s thinking had already begun a sharp turn, and he had become preoccupied with one thought. “You want to make the Chinese prosperous, and most people in China are on the mainland,” he told me. “So if I come to the mainland I can make a larger contribution.”
On the night of May 16, 1979, Lin walked to the water’s edge, stepped out of his shoes, and waded into the Taiwan Strait. The current was swift and strong, but he had been studying the sea, and he timed his departure to avoid being pushed back to shore by the rising tide. “You need to go when it’s receding,” he recalled. “You need to cross the middle, and then the rising tide will carry you all the way over to the other side.” He swam freestyle, and floated on the current for nearly three hours. “When I reached the shore, I suspected there were some kinds of land mines, so I did not want to walk.” He carried a flashlight, and he signalled to Chinese troops on the shore. “They sent a soldier to arrest me.”
Lin went on to earn a doctorate in economics at George Washington University, going on to become an influential economist in China in the late 1980s, just as the mainland was “hungry for expertise.”
Activity on export-led growth:
Use the following online tool from MIT (external link) to examine China’s exports to the United States in the following years.
For each date, make a note of the total amount of exports from China to the United States and the composition of those exports. Then, consider:
Build a bibliography: