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Outofin

Chinese and history

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chrix

Well, but I still don't buy your democracy argument, because plenty of democratic countries are history-obsessed. I just think your example of Taiwan is problematic because history is also an identity issue, and you might be aware that this is a controversial issue in Taiwan.

Simply speaking, in Taiwan it all boils down to the question, what history should we care about, Chinese history or Taiwanese history, and in such an environment, history dramas will probably do poorly on the market (and still Taiwanese history dramas might probably still be the better business decision).

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gato

Just out of curiosity, can you list the Taiwanese history drama you are referring to? I'm only familiar with 候孝贤.

I'm not really interested in debating about this, as none of us really have the necessary empirical proof here. All we can do is to state our opinion, and generally in such a hedged fashion as to make them non-falsifiable. :wink:

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chrix

I'm actually not that much into history dramas in general, and I'm certainly no expert in Taiwan drama either, but here's some I found from a cursory glance over wikipedia, I'm sure there's more (and I think there also might be more Taiyu dramas set in a historical period, but I even know less about Taiyu dramas):

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/再見,忠貞二村

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/風中緋櫻

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/台灣百合_(電視劇)

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/嘉慶君遊台灣

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/一八九五

Shows about the main Taoist goddess in Taiwan:

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/天上聖母媽祖

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/懷玉傳奇_千金媽祖

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Ah-Bin

It is interesting that chrix mentions Rome and Greece. I think the main problem is that many different states of different sizes in the East Asian mainland have all been written into a linear national history. Many Chinese like to compare the length of US history with that of China, but the approach is fundamentally mistaken.

There is "China" meaning the state and "China" meaning the civilization. The first one has only a sixty year history, and the other has been around a lot longer.

The states in the Americas might be very young, but the "civilization(s)" is actually a divergent branch of an older European one, and it still looks back to Greece and Rome for inspiration, often quite unconsciously. Of course it has its own innovations originating on interactions with indigenous peoples, on environment, and from basic human creativity, but the same can be said of Fujian and Guangdong.

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xianhua

I can safely say that many good people in Britain are equally fascinated by our history too. You won't have to look far any given weekend of the year to find a passionate group of individuals staging re-enactments of famous battles, from the Civil to the Zulu Wars.

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wushijiao

I really agree with what A-Bin has said above. :D

I'm not really interested in debating about this, as none of us really have the necessary empirical proof here. All we can do is to state our opinion, and generally in such a hedged fashion as to make them non-falsifiable

To some extent, I think you're right. :D

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doraemon

Many aspects of the Chinese language are inextricably linked to its history. Therefore I believe most Chinese people are knowledgeable to some extent about their own history e.g. many 成语 have historical allusions.

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chrix

Western languages are full of historical allusions too... the Bible, Rome, Ancient Greece, the shared Western history, their own national histories, you name it...

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doraemon
Western languages are full of historical allusions too... the Bible, Rome, Ancient Greece, the shared Western history, their own national histories, you name it...

Oh yes, of course. :D But I just seem to get the impression that the Chinese language places more emphasis on history than most others. Don't you reckon? :wink:

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chrix

These things are hard to quantify, so before seeing hard facts (like statistically significant numbers based on reasonably large text corpora), I won't reckon anything. Personal impressions can often be misleading..

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bhchao

China is a civilization-state that has continued intact for 4,000 years. Of course an entity known as "China" with fixed boundaries didn't exist before the modern nation-state era. But the Chinese as being part of a continuous civilization state, with the Han identity at its core, has existed without a breakup of this identity; despite wars, invasions, famine, and other turbulent events.

Today's China is a nation-state on surface only. It fulfills its obligations in the international order, participating in the global institutionalized framework as long as it serves China's interests to participate. In substance China operates as an uninterrupted civilization-state. The Chinese place great pride in their history and worth, and never viewed themselves as subservient toward the West.

A good example is why do so many Chinese still view Mao with esteem despite his shortcomings? It's because he upheld China's territorial integrity and dignity by eliminating all foreign leverage over China. My mom, despite being born to anti-communist parents from Taiwan, sees the PRC as the true China rather than the ROC, because the PRC kicked out the foreign imperialists.

Many traditional Chinese practices have been lost under Maoism, but the mentality, shared norms and customs, and cultural identity have remained intact over millennia despite political transitions. China is simply not like the West, and never will be.

The values America was founded is incompatible with a civilization-state. What works in America might not work in China. Americans view the preservation of individual liberty as a hallmark of their country. In contrast the Chinese exhibit greater respect for the natural authority and legitimacy of the state. They may not like the government, but the state is seen as the protector and guardian of Chinese civilization and unity. Confucian paternalism plays a large role. The state delivers to the people as much as the father delivers to the offspring. The state keeps the Mandate of Heaven as long as it delivers. Therefore the Western theory that economic liberalization will lead to political liberalization is deeply flawed.

Also Chinese in general are more pragmatic than idealistic compared with Americans. This means that Chinese are much more ambivalent than Americans about issues such as global warming, eating less beef, human rights, or aiding other authoritarian countries; unless you find an approach that appeals to their national interest.

Why should Chinese care if the world heats up by 2 degrees in the next 50 years? But if you mention the word "stability", you possess the trump card because stability is a national obsession in China given the nation's history. If America matches its interests with China's interests, there will be a successful relationship. China, like Russia, tends to prefer Nixons and Reagans than Obamas. In other words, a realist leader rather than an idealistic, good-boy leader.

Edited by bhchao

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gato
My mom, despite being born to anti-communist parents from Taiwan, sees the PRC as the true China rather than the ROC, because the PRC kicked out the foreign imperialists.

How can you say that it was the Communists who kicked the foreign imperialists out?

The KMT army suffered nearly 5 million casualties in fighting the Japanese. The Communist army's casualties were only 200,000s, much smaller. The war also could not have been won without American assistance.

A more accurate interpretation is that the KMT exhausted itself in fighting the Japanese. The Communists then took advantage and won the subsequent civil war in 1945-1949.

http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/17336323.html?fr=qrl&cid=204&index=2

抗日战争胜利后共军和国民党各伤亡人数

民国死伤490万军队,中共死伤20余万军队。

中国直接损失达5000亿人民币。百姓死亡近3000万

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doraemon
What works in America might not work in China. Americans view the preservation of individual liberty as a hallmark of their country. In contrast the Chinese exhibit greater respect for the natural authority and legitimacy of the state. They may not like the government, but the state is seen as the protector and guardian of Chinese civilization and unity.

Well said! I completely agree with you. :mrgreen:

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Outofin
My mom, despite being born to anti-communist parents from Taiwan, sees the PRC as the true China rather than the ROC, because the PRC kicked out the foreign imperialists.

How can you say that it was the Communists who kicked the foreign imperialists out?

ROC had a soft stance with imperial powers. KMT's wealthy families had a good shared interests with imperialists.

ROC didn't even have a full sovereignty. Foreigners had their own laws and police in Chinese lands until 1940s. Not full-scaled colonies but very close.

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wushijiao
ROC didn't even have a full sovereignty. Foreigners had their own laws and police in Chinese lands until 1940s. Not full-scaled colonies but very close.

I think it is important to stress that the ROC's diplomats had skillfully gotten rid of the unfair treaties by the 1940's, and had secured foreign acceptance over many important territorial disputes (ie. Taiwan).

Why should Chinese care if the world heats up by 2 degrees in the next 50 years?

I generally agree with what you wrote about the civilization-state, bhchao, but about the above line, it's a bit ironic that the CCP is pursuing its own interests with regard to climate change- ie. giving "development" way more weight than the environment.

But China is already under immense environmental stress. Rivers are running dangerously low, the whole middle part of China could become a big desert. Meanwhile, the developed east coast is all basically at sea level, and God only know what will happen should sea levels rise a few feet, and cities like Hong Kong Shanghai...etc, are wiped off the map.

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Outofin
I think it is important to stress that the ROC's diplomats had skillfully gotten rid of the unfair treaties by the 1940's, and had secured foreign acceptance over many important territorial disputes (ie. Taiwan).

I don't think it's fair to call it "skillfully". They took 35 years! Just took any 35-years period from history, see how many things had happened and gotten done. Finishing off World War II, 6 years. Sending men to the moon, less than a decade. Transferring China from a failing central planned economy to the world's 3rd largest, 3 decades. Think those tremendous amount of work to be done.

ROC simply didn't take on the sovereignty issues seriously. I suspect even if they didn't do anything, colonialist would have left anyway because the age of colonialism was over.

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bhchao

I think it's a bit unfair toward the ROC since they did not get a chance to prove themselves due to war. Arguably, there are mainland scholars today who suggest that China might have been better off had the KMT prevailed in the civil war.

China's economy would have modernized much quicker, instead of being delayed by 30 years. The KMT's pro-market policies, along with American technical assistance, would have drawn investment into the country.

China also would have retained its ancient traditions because the KMT favored a Confucian society.

But of course ROC never got the chance to implement its economic and cultural policies because of the Japanese invasion and civil war. Had ROC paid more attention to the peasants, reduced its corruption, and adopted a harder stance against the imperialists, they would have drawn more support.

I generally agree with what you wrote about the civilization-state, bhchao, but about the above line, it's a bit ironic that the CCP is pursuing its own interests with regard to climate change- ie. giving "development" way more weight than the environment.

But China is already under immense environmental stress. Rivers are running dangerously low, the whole middle part of China could become a big desert. Meanwhile, the developed east coast is all basically at sea level, and God only know what will happen should sea levels rise a few feet, and cities like Hong Kong Shanghai...etc, are wiped off the map.

Yes the environment is an issue the CCP should be paying more attention to. The future conditions you described could cause instability as people fight over scarce natural resources. So climate change is linked to the stability issue.

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renzhe
The KMT's pro-market policies, along with American technical assistance

I was under the impression that the Americans supported the KMT because of the cold war, like they did in Korea and Vietnam, not because they were itching to rain technical assistance all over the world. The technical support given to the KMT in Taiwan was closely related to a communist-ruled country of one billion people. Places like India have had democracy since around the time that the CCP took over, and they are not more advanced than either China or Taiwan right now, despite all the American technical assistance (or the lack thereof).

These arguments are very very hypothetical. You can't assume that China would have a standard comparable to Taiwan if the KMT had won the war. It's a bit like saying that if the communist party took over Madagascar, they would be a nuclear superpower and send astronauts into orbit :mrgreen:

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bhchao
These arguments are very very hypothetical. You can't assume that China would have a standard comparable to Taiwan if the KMT had won the war.

It's true that Taiwan is much smaller and easier to manage. However even applying the same policies implemented in Taiwan onto the Mainland, the economic and social effect would still not be severe vis-a-vis with communist policies. Geography constrains the penetration of programs/policies, but the nature of the program is what dictates the amount of human gain or suffering.

It probably wouldn't matter who won the war. The biggest factor is management style, choosing the right people to do the right job. The CCP had pragmatic individuals such as Liu Shiaoqi and Zhou Enlai, who if given control over the economy, probably would have achieved moderate success. The problem was Mao controlled all the decision-making, and refused to delegate authority on economic matters to pragmatic individuals. Ideology was inserted into the decision-making process.

Mao micromanaged the political as well as the economic decisions.

Taiwan had the opposite outcome. Chiang Kai-shek was a dictator, but he had a team of US-educated technocrats well versed in economics and science. These technocrats went with him to Taiwan. He controlled all the political power, while delegated decisionmaking on the economy to technocrats. Party ideology was kept out of the economic decisionmaking process.

Chiang micromanaged the political, but left the details of economic programs to his advisers to craft.

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gato
Places like India have had democracy since around the time that the CCP took over, and they are not more advanced than either China or Taiwan right now, despite all the American technical assistance (or the lack thereof).

It seems pretty clear from the history of the last hundred years that the political system that promotes the fastest GDP growth is authoritarian capitalism, second would be democratic capitalism, followed by democratic socialism. The worst system for economic growth would authoritarian socialism.

The PRC's fast growth in the last 20 years is due to its authoritarian capitalism model, as was the case for South Korea and Taiwan.

India, on the other hand, followed the democratic socialism path, with the government-planned economy, for most of the period after its independence in 1947. It's only in the last 20 years that India has liberalized its economy and turned more towards democratic capitalism. Because democracy allows for public opposition to development, India is not able to develop as quickly as the PRC under authoritarian capitalism, but many say that it is developing in a more balanced way, with more equality.

Edited by gato

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