Tag Archives: China

Independence Movements in China… Story by Alex Chow

“This world will separate after long time united and vice versa.” This is a famous quote from the Records of the Three Kingdoms—a manuscript from a period in China’s history in around 280 B.C.E. It is an undoubtful truth since various parts of the world, including China, have separated and unified along history. Tibet, Uighur and Mongolia used to be foreign enemies of ancient China, until finally they were conquered after long years of wars. With 56 ethnic groups and over 200 dialects, diversity enriches the Chinese culture, yet it also means a heavy burden to unify the whole country.

When it comes to independence movements, there are many different aspects depending on the culture. Many of the messages contrast with the government’s policy towards “inalienable parts of the country’’.

Most of the people in Hong Kong are Hans—they shared much of their same history with mainland China, yet a seed of western culture germinated. Hong Kong was the colony of the British Empire from 1842 until recently in 1997.

Independent Hong Kong?... Many protesters desire ideas such as democracy and free elections
Independent Hong Kong?… Many protesters desire ideas such as democracy and free elections. Photo By: themalaymail

Notions of democracy, capitalism, and freedom became deeply rooted in the city. However, these ideals are often suppressed under the dictatorship of China. While Hong Kong has ten political parties, there is but a one-party system in the mainland China. The conflicts between Hong Kong and China are inevitable due to these contradicting beliefs.

Much of the desire for independence is because China keeps taking benefits from Hong Kong. For example, around a hundred billion HK$ was spend to build a high-speed railway from Hong Kong to China, a project that mainly benefits mainland China.

An attempt to seek democracy  triggered a wave of independent movements, advocated not only by street protesters, but also by legislative councilors. However, many of the councilors were suppressed by the government, either being unfairly removed or even thrown in jail. As a result, the independent movements lost momentum but were not eradicated.

Some claim that Hong Kong can never become independent because of it’s dependence on the mainland. This is only partially true—China will never say yes to the independence of Hong Kong because of the dignity of being a superpower and the financial role of Hong Kong. Hong Kong would also not be admitted to the United Nations since China is one of the five permanent members who can veto admission. China’s global influence means that Hong Kong would inevitably be isolated, should it desire independence.

Autonomous Regions... China has borderlands with independent cultures. Photo by: Wikipedia
Autonomous Regions… China has borderlands with independent cultures. Photo by: Wikipedia

On the other side of China, Tibet was an independent kingdom for centuries before the Mongol conquest. Afterwards, it fell largely under Chinese influence. It achieved autonomy during the chaos in the Chinese Civil War, before the communist forces took over the mainland. In 1950, the PRC invaded Tibet and defeated the Tibetan forces decisively in the Battle of Chamdo.

After the annexation of Tibet, quality of life was greatly improved in the region, though at the price of tightened control from China. It underwent sinification, a process whereby non-Chinese society come under the influence of Chinese culture, particularly Han Chinese norms. Land collectivization led to famines and riots, all suppressed by violence As a result, the Tibetan political leader Dalai Lama fled to India to establish Tibetan Government in Exile. Meanwhile, Tibet is still under the control of China.

Tibetan as an ethnic minority, they have their unique culture and language. Hence, it makes sense for them to possess some autonomy under the government. Nevertheless, China is not going to agree with the pursuit of the independence as others ethnic minorities may follow this example. China will lose to natural access to numerous natural resources in these areas, as well as Tibet’s strategic importance as a buffer region.

The independence movements are likely to go into a dead end since at no point will China gives up these regions to weaken the strength of the country. Catalonia is a good example of the failure of independent movements, an announcement of independence is nothing but a delusion without international support. Still, it is only a pause but not an end as long as it could be a leverage for asking higher autonomy.

Differences with Hong Kong and China… Story by Alex Chow

Hong Kong is a southern metropolitan city of China. In the eyes of foreigners, people form Hong Kong are considered as Chinese, rarely Japanese or Korean. Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China indeed and thus people form Hong Kong are Chinese undoubtedly. Still, people from Hong Kong prefer to call themselves Hongkonger since there are plentiful differences between Hong Kong and China in terms of politics, culture, and economy. As a result, Hong Kong people have a distinct ethnic identity in compare of Chinese.

First and foremost, Hong Kong and China have entirely opposite political system. In mainland China, there is a one-party dictatorship, the powers of executive, legislative, judicial and the fourth estate are all under control of the Communist Party. Although political decisions have to be voted in the Standing Committee, all representatives are nothing but voting machines.

Two Systems... A passport in China needs to be checked in Hong Kong
Two Systems… A passport in China needs to be checked in Hong Kong

Everything is under the control of the president of the party, there are not genuine vote and election. In Hong Kong, people value democracy, rule of law and the separation of powers. Every require of funding and legislation must seek agreement from the legislative council so as to limit the power of the government.As such, there have been many pro-democracy protests recently in Hong Kong.

When it comes to the culture, Hong Kong inherits Chinese culture and is influenced by western culture deeply as Hong Kong was a colony of Britain till 1997. Even though Hong Kong was returned to China, Hong Kong is still being an international city. Hong Kong embraces all kind of cultures. For example, Hongkongers watch a vast number of American, Japanese, Korean and Chinese movies. Also, as a gourmet paradise, you can find food form different parts of the world in Hong Kong. Compared to Hong Kong, China is more xenophobic. They perceive America and Japan are evil empires. For instance, there was an enormous anti-Japan campaign in China, people ruined every Japanese product they can find.

Separate Currencies... Hong Kong and China have vastly different economies, and use separate money
Separate Currencies… Hong Kong and China have vastly different economies

Speaking of the economy. Hong Kong worships capitalism while China believes communism. Hong Kong has the freest economy system among the world but China has a strictly planed and regulated economy system. There is such a big comparison in the light of “one country, two systems” so Hong Kong is independent in terms of economy and politics. Additionally, Hong Kong has its own currency peg to the US dollar instead of using RMB. This is part of why Hong Kong is a large trading center, comparable to Wall Street—its service economy can serve large parts of the world remotely.

The two regions have distinct history, culture, and economies. Though both city and country have an important connection, the term “Chinese” cannot show all the features of Hong Kong. Hence, people in Hong Kong find themselves Hongkongers instead of Chinese.

Chinese Mathematics Stereotypes?… Story by Alex Chow

‘’Chinese students are geniuses in mathematics”—Is it a stereotype?

If there are Chinese students in your school, people will perceive they are geniuses in mathematics. This is the most trivial stereotype about Chinese, but does it hold any truth?

Here are the statistics: according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) which is a standardized test among the globe, when it comes to mathematics Chinese students are always in the top of the academic pile. There are up to 30 percent of students in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan that reached the highest level in math performance.

However, American students are in the bottom, as 25 percent of American students did not reach the PISA baseline for “level 2” in math proficiency. Comparatively only about 10 percent of students in countries such as Canada, Korea, Shanghai, and Singapore, failed to reach that benchmark. Also, there are only two percent of students in America that achieved the top performance.

Mapping IQ... The supposed average IQ of different countries is listed, with China's slightly above the US's. Photo By: Our World in Data.
Mapping IQ… The supposed average IQ of different countries is listed, with China’s slightly above the US’s. Photo By: Our World in Data.

First off, many Chinese have higher intelligence quotient (IQ) than their American counterparts. This is backed by the research of Richard Lynn, a British Professor of Psychology, and Tatu Vanhanen, a Finnish Professor of Political Science, who conducted IQ studies in more than 80 countries. Hong Kong’s citizens have the highest intelligence quotient among the world, at an average of 108, while the average in America is 98. IQ is another possible reason how the current stereotype on Chinese math skills came to be. However, there are known faults in this test, and while it can sometimes accurately gauge proficiency it is not definitive—acquired cultivation also plays a vital role in mathematics.

As you may know, China has a much higher education standard than America. The width and depth of the syllabus of mathematics in China is superior to America. In China, mathematics is a compulsory subject, students have mathematics class nearly every school day. Chinese students have longer time to learn and practice mathematics than American.’’ Practice makes perfect.’’ It may prove that Chinese is not genius, but are hard-workers.

Additionally, the competitive Chinese society boosts the academic results of students. In China, there is a famous saying ,” Knowledge can offer you a new leaf.’’ Chinese people believe that studying in a good college can push them into an upper social class. As a result, there are huge competition for colleges.

Rigorous Testing... National tests in China create a lot more competition than in the US. Photo By: ICEC.
Rigorous Testing… National tests in China create a lot more competition than in the US. Photo By: ICEC.

For example, there are only 18% of students in Hong Kong have a chance to study in colleges. China has the greatest Gini’s coefficient, education is the ladder for people getting rid of poverty. Thus, Chinese students study very hard. On the other hand, there are far less competition in America. There is not a vast gap between blue and white collar workers. Even if students cannot study in colleges, they could still have decent income. Hence, American students have smaller motivation to strike for excellence in academic.

Last , the mindset about studying. The Chinese have a growth mindset while America has a fixed mindset. Growth mindset is all about diligence—in general, Chinese students believe excellence can only be achieved by hard work instead of talent. If they aren’t doing well, they’ll work harder, and they’ll be successful. However, American students tend to believe in talent, if they don’t get a good result at the beginning, usually they will not try to put more effort to improve it as they think themselves are not good at it.

To conclude, Chinese students outperform American students in mathematics is not because they are geniuses, it is because of the work ethic behind the excellence.

 

Assad, Chemical Weapons, and MOAB, Oh My! … by Jada Giddings

Recently in the past two weeks, the U.S. fired the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), or “Mother of All Bombs,” into a network of tunnels filled with ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. Killing at least ninety-four ISIS militants terrorizing the Afghan people, a majority of the citizens of Afghanistan supported this bomb dropped. This weapon, MOAB, was the first time the United States military have used it.

The Mother of All Bombs.
The Mother of All Bombs.

The bomb was dropped from the C-130 Hercules and guided to its target with a GPS of sorts. It accelerated thirty-two feet per second from where it was dropped causing it to be pulled down by gravity at insane speeds. The bomb has a one mile range and practically flattened everything in its blast radius. Despite the high casualty rate of this air strike, ISIS fighters continue to attack American troops and Afghan security forces, which led the U.S. to threaten to call in more airstrikes to known militant positions throughout Afghanistan.

 

Along with last week’s event of MOAB, Bashar al-Assad committed genocide against the Syrian peoples in Khan Sheikhoun. After this chemical attack, the United States responded by holding the entire Assad regime accountable for the blatant human rights violations. Killing around five-hundred thousand innocent lives, the United States is taking Syria’s disregard for human rights seriously. It is intended that all financial networks that participated in the making of chemical weapons, used to attack these many innocent lives, will be shut down. Though, it is little known that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons before. “In response to findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, that the Syrian regime was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015,” A recent press release stated, shedding new light on chemical attacks by Assad. Why he has committed genocide against the people of Syria; a mystery. Just the week after the 2017 chemical attacks took place, China and Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution that was backed up by the West, the resolution imposing sanctions in Syria of its chemical weapons.

Assad“It was the seventh time that Russia, Syria’s top military ally, has used its veto power to shield the Damascus regime,” AFP reported. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, claimed it was “completely inappropriate” to impose sanctions on their ally, Syria, believing that it would disrupt the peace talks with them.

Trade and Trump…Story by Isaac Solly

On January 24th, the president officially pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ending the ongoing efforts dating back to 2010. TPP aimed to free up tariffs and trade barriers between fourteen Pacific countries, the wealth of which added up to 40% of the world’s GDP. The deal was spearheaded by Obama’s administration, but over the campaign trail Trump rallied against it, citing globalism as a threat to American jobs.

The world’s response has been quick—in a recent Davos conference China’s President Xi Jinping attended and acted as a leader in free trade, stating, “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.” Jinping went on to explain how the US abandoned its role as a leader in capitalism, and as such, China was forced into this position.

In fact, an intended effect of TPP was to isolate China economically

Global Trade...The TPP proposed members included Pacific nations, with the noticeable exception of China. Photo by obiter-dicta.ca
Global Trade…The TPP proposed members included Pacific nations, with the noticeable exception of China. Photo by obiter-dicta.ca

from their neighbors. With the collapse of the deal, the reverse is quite possible—Australia cited possible deals with China, and New Zealand still hopes for a deal without US involvement. General diplomacy with the region has not been positive anyway, with a hostile phone call between the Australian Prime Minister and President Trump, and the development of Chinese encroachment on the South China Sea.

The president seems more than willing to use trade as a tool with which to negotiate, as seen with threats of an import tax on Mexican goods based on Mexican retaliation over the proposed wall, raising the possibility of a 20% tariff. This would contradict NAFTA, another

Capitalist China...President Xi Jinping of China speaks at the Davos conference on globalism and free trade. Photo by: www.weforum.org, Valeriano Di Domenico
Capitalist China…President Xi Jinping of China speaks at the Davos conference on globalism and free trade. Photo by: www.weforum.org, Valeriano Di Domenico

trade agreement including Canada, the US, and Mexico. NAFTA was the source of many campaign attacks from President Trump, despite evidence showing negligible economic impact on American workers.

Another example of dealing over trade was seen last week, with the British Prime Minister May’s visit to the US. In the press conference both leaders stressed

the “$1 trillion invested in each other’s economies” and “future economic cooperation and trade.” The meeting set a different tone to a traditionally protectionist President Trump, and shared optimistic views on the speed of such a deal. However, with Britain leaving the European Union’s trade zone and America pulling out of other such agreements, the two countries are likely to embrace bilateral trade.

President Trump’s official website calls for “tough and fair agreements” and does not hold back from threatening US withdrawal on deals such as NAFTA. However, most of the claims are vague and do not inform much—for example, the page says that negotiators will be the “toughest and smartest” yet doesn’t give any names or direct policy. Based on this aggressive approach, it is likely that the President will look for strategies as if they were being directed by a business. Whether this approach will reap benefits is yet to be seen.