井底之蛙

9/30/2005

Happy Birthday China! Happy Birthday Freedom!

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:17 pm

According to People’s Daily English Edition China has turned 5,056 years old today. 5,000 years of timeless Chinese civilization, plus 56 years of New China. Always nice to read these things to get the current line straightened out. Still lots of stuff about how China was freed from oppression by the CCP. A nice quote from a 7th grader who hates studying modern history because it was “so bitter.” (I always tell mu students Chinese hate studying this period. Now I have a citation) Some stuff on how Communism led to economic development. Most interesting to me was the emphasis on democracy and minority rights.

Stability and prosperity can in no way be realized without democracy. By proceeding from its own conditions, New China practices the “system of multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China,”

Minorities matter too.

All the 55 ethnic minorities have deputies to the NPC, who take 13.91% of the seats, although their combined population account for less than 9% of the national total. And their development and prosperity have always been high on the agenda of the leaders of the People’s Republic.

All of this democracy and equality will lead to more development.

Ensured by democracy, stability has ensured economic growth and social progress nationwide. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s GDP has grown at annual rate greater than 9% since 1979, reaching 13,651.5 billion yuan (8.27 yuan against the U.S. dollar) in 2004, nearly double that of 1998. China is producing enough to feed one fifth of the world’s population though its arable land accounts for only 7% of the world’s total.

GNP figures we would get in the U.S. Emphasizing that we now grow enough food to feed ourselves is China.
I liked seeing democracy being presented as a necessity for economic growth, rather than a luxury good that will have to wait on development. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, it is nice to see the tribute system getting restored.

Via Simon’s World

Yuan Shikai, Daoist

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 11:00 am

Another neat thing from Tales of Old China. They have a whole section of French Images, which mostly seem to be postcards and newspaper clippings from somewhere that they have scanned in. These can be quite frustrating, since they are undated and unless there is a caption it is often not at all clear what they are. It is doubly annoying since so many of them are good pictures. The standard Chinese method of photography at this point seems to have been collect a bunch of people (The Whampoa cadets, for example) line them up in front of a building and then move the camera back far enough to get the entire building in and reduce the people to dots. The French had a very different aesthetic that led to better pictures.
Yuan-Daoist
Here is one of them. It shows Yuan Shikai in what the caption says is a peasant’s outfit, although to me he looks more like a Daoist recluse. I think the caption is saying that the picture was taken while he was in disgrace, which would make it just before 1911. It’s a nice shot because while there are lots of pictures out there of Yuan as a general, there are very few that use him to show the changing ways the elite (and emperors) could present themselves. When I show this one to students they (well, some of them) immediately think of all the pictures I had shown them from Hal Kahn’s Monarchy in the Emperor’s Eyes, which showed Qianlong as a Manchu warrior, poet, Buddhist, Daoist, and martial arts-master.

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