China


Yes, indeed. This is from the train that took me last year from Pyongyang to Beijing. A preparation for a series of photographs on the DPRK (North Korea) – which I have at last finished processing:

2015 June 267 (640x480)

It reads: xian ren zhibu, which would be better translated as ‘no loitering’.

In an earlier piece, I commented on the struggle over ‘traditional’ and simplified’ script in China, noting that Taiwan’s decision to keep the traditional script was a deeply anti-communist move. The same could be said of Hong Kong and some older overseas Chinese communities. To add to this, it is worth noting that the DPRK (North Korea) immediately fostered the hangul script (they call it Chosŏn’gŭl), which was first designed in the fifteenth century. By contrast, South Korea for a long time continued to use the elite hanja system (based on Chinese characters). Why? The southerners saw it as an anti-communist move.

But I am interested here in another feature of the politics of script. In traditional Chinese practice, it was the custom for a married woman to be called taitai, madam. Her full name would have her husband’s family name and then the title, as in Wang taitai or Zhang taitai. A husband would call his wife Wo taitai, ‘my madam’ or perhaps ‘my Mrs’. This practice is still common in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and older overseas Chinese communities. However, in mainland China the practice was eradicated after 1949. You do not call a married woman taitai, indeed you do not call her by her husband’s name at all. She has her own name. Guess why.

 

Now here’s a new year gift with a difference: a rap video featuring none other than Xi Jinping.

Rough translation:

The Reform Group is Two Years Old

2015

Gotta eye the reform group in 2015

It] pushes economic development and a wealthier society

[It] improves [government] services

[Must] streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels

[Must] believe in the government

Let hands that should not move stay unmoved, let the market rule

They insist on fighting corruption

They specialise in hitting tigers

Rule the party strictly

Govern the country by law

[The whole country] is overwhelmed with joy

Unfold the three stricts and three honests

Let the people supervise

Put a tight lid on corrupt officials who put out their hands recklessly

he reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Change the education system, change the medical system, change the household registration system, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Help the people, benefit the people, don’t tire people

Fight poverty with precision

[Xi sound bite] Let the people’s wishes become our action

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Change the pricing system, change taxes, change SOEs, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels, unleash energy

Reform the supply side and upgrade the economy

[Xi sound bite] An arrow will never return once it’s shot by a bow

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Flies, tigers, big foxes, CATCH CATCH CATCH CATCH!

To rule the party strictly we must harden our bodies, the judicial reform must be victorious

[Xi sound bite] All corruption must be punished. Every corrupt official must be prosecuted

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Cure the water, cure the air, cure the land, CURE CURE CURE CURE!

Clear water and lush mountains equals a mountain of gold

This is what is we must do on ‘One Belt, One Road’

[Xi sound bite] The principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

Push progress in Asia and Europe

It’s name is ‘One Belt, One Road’

Free-trade [zone] opened, mutual help on law and finance

Founding of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, accelerating the building of infrastructure

The yuan admitted to SDR

They hate smog to the bone

To preserve ecology, [they are] determined to open the bow

Shut down the ones that are supposed to be shut down

Suspend those who are supposed to be suspended

With clear water and lush mountains, a new march can start

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Change the pricing system, change taxes, change SOEs, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Help the people, benefit the people, don’t tire people

Fight poverty with precision

[Xi sound bite] Let the people’s wish become our action

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Change the pricing system, change taxes, change SOEs, CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE!

Streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels and unleash energy

Reform the supply side and upgrade the economy

[Xi sound bite] Only the daring will prevail at key stages of reform

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Flies, tigers, big foxes, CATCH CATCH CATCH CATCH!

To rule the party strictly we must harden our bodies, the judicial reform must be victorious

[Xi sound bite] Hold the sword to fight corruption high

The reform group is two years old, it has done quite a lot

Cure the water, cure the air, cure the land, CURE CURE CURE CURE!

Clear water and lush mountains equals a mountain of gold

This is what is we must do on ‘One Belt, One Road’

[Xi sound bite] It’s not closed, but open and tolerant.

The website concerning the first China Road conference in the southern hemisphere is now up at the University of Newcastle (screen grab below). This is obviously a notice to save the date and begin thinking about a potential conference paper or panel proposal. More details will be posted as the conference planning develops early in the new year. This is sponsored by none less than the Academy of Marxism within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

 

ChinaRoadBanner_v2a

When 19 to 21 August 2016

Where University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Contact Roland.Boer

PRELIMINARY CALL FOR PAPERS & SAVE THE DATE

Paper proposals and abstracts for The China Road international conference due 1 June 2016.

The China Road has a number of levels of meaning. It concerns China’s distinct path in the modern world, a path that has also been called the ‘Beijing Consensus’ and ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, with deep historical roots and a broad basis in reality. It also refers to the new ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which seeks to revitalise countries along and around the old Silk Road – a revitalisation that includes economic, cultural, social and educational dimensions.

In this light, the conference will examine the China Road from a range of perspectives. These include philosophy, Marxism, economics, politics, society, education, culture, different forms of democracy, and international relations in the Asian Century. With an eye on past and present, the conference will also examine possible future developments. It will be undertaken in a supportive environment, seeking insight, understanding and constructive criticism. The conference is ideally placed to make a significant impact, attracting attention by the media and the wider public.

Scholars from Australasia and China, as well as international scholars, are invited to participate. The conference will also include keynote speakers.

Please save the date and return to this website for more details, including registration, as they become available.

The China Road conference is sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Academy of Marxism image

Despite all that has been written about the economic powerhouse that China is becoming, the basic approach to life and economics remains largely the same. A recent survey of Chinese women produced the following results:

65.23% subscribe to ‘jianku pusu, jingda xisuan’: a hard and simple life requires careful calculation and strict budgetting.

19.45 % prefer ‘meiyou jihua, suibian hua’: random spending without plan.

11.19 % follow ‘sheng duoshao, hua duoshao’: spend as much as you earn.

Only 4.13 % are comfortable with ‘daikuan xiaofei’: getting a loan to consume what you want.

Many strange things happen in Russia, but this is one of the more intriguing. Not so long ago, I was told while in Russia that one could not speak of Marxism directly in many circles. Marxism is a dirty word, I was told; indeed, there are no Marxists of any influence. The only way to undertake research on Marxism and find a job in a university was to focus on the various forms of the opposition to Lenin and Stalin.

Something has changed. It began with an invitation from Algoritm Press to write a book on Stalin that would be translated into Russian. Debate is heating up over Stalin’s legacy, with an increasing number of people calling for a reassessment. They also want foreign engagements with this debate. It has also generated works like Oleg Khlevniuk’s new biography of Stalin, which is an alarmed response to these developments.

But it really struck me this year at a couple of conferences, one celebrating 120 years since the death of Engels and the other called, innocuously, the World Cultural Forum. At the first conference, in Nanjing, a number of Russian scholars were present, with their journeys covered by the conference organisers. They spoke mostly of Chinese Marxism, although one chose to speak in Russian since it was ‘the language of Lenin’. However, one of them spoke of socialism as a cultural force, in both the Soviet Union and China, if not worldwide. Afterwards, I said to him, ‘I was told there are no Marxists in Russian any more’. He replied, ‘Well, I am one. She is one. He is one …’.

At the next conference, a few days later in Beijing, the handful of Russian scholars became scores. They had all attended an earlier conference there (which I had missed) called the ‘World Socialist Forum’ – which may be seen as the twenty-first century’s version of the Comintern. Now it became even more interesting. Some of the Russian speakers sought to draw upon and assess positively aspects of the Soviet Union. One spoke of Soviet education, another of Soviet cultural policy, another of Sino-Soviet ties. I dared to speak in front of such an audience (a little nervously) of the philosophical connections between the nationalities policy, affirmative action, anti-colonialism and the redefinition of ‘people’ and state in the Soviet Union. Quite a few came up to me afterwards with appreciative comments. One senior philosopher from the Academy of Sciences even told me that I had managed to identify some of the key philosophical developments he had been studying for 40 years.

So what is going on? I am not quite sure. Partly, it has to do with the recent development of very close ties between Russia and China, thereby negating much of the efforts of NATO and the USA. But it goes well beyond strategic and economic interests. Partly, it has to do with finding common ground between Russia and China, via the Soviet era, although an occasional Russian will assert that the Soviet Union was ‘more advanced’ than China. But I sense much more is under way, with both older scholars who spent most of their lives in the Soviet Union and younger scholars seeking to re-engage. What these developments might actually mean is still unclear to me.

I like this one. It is an idiomatic expression usually translated as ‘Let me explain’.

The Chinese is: 你听我说 (nǐ tīng wǒ shuō).

A more literal translation is: you listen, I speak!

Next Page »