Monday, August 8, 2011

A New Modest Proposal

Famous satirist Jonathan Swift once wrote an essay called "A Modest Proposal" wherein he suggests that the poor might sell there children as food, mocking attitudes toward the poor. Well some of the local governments in China seem to think that selling children is a great idea, just not for food. This New York Times article tells the story of how in some rural areas of China local officials are grabbing children from there parents on trumped up charges, or just because they can, and selling them for adoption. There are several things I find amazing about this. First is the just cartoonishly evil nature of what they are doing. The Chinese government does a lot of bad things but here I feel there must be some one twirling a mustache and laughing maniacly as children are ripped from the arms of there parents. This is also another interesting example of how little control the central government really has some times. In a society as autocratic as China you'd think the central government would be able to control the local governments easily but that's just not the situation. Local government seem to have a significant amount of power to ignore the national government on all but the biggest issues. With reporting of corruption also out the window, no part of the government really wants to encourage that since they're all corrupt, no one is able to do much about horrible situations like this.

I'd also like to note that my sister has started writing a blog which is included in the links to the left.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I've been traveling to a lot of countries around East Asia since I've come to China, but one I've been very interested in going to, but haven't had the chance, is Japan. Basically it's just too expensive for me to do on my China salary, I'm hoping that my parents might want to go now that they're moving to Beijing, but for me it's just too much. Going to Singapore for even a few days cost way too much and Japan might be even more expensive. I've read a few books about Japan and I'd really love to see some of the sights, Japanese culture is certainly interesting as well, but I also feel that living in China has given me a very negative view of Japanese people as a whole. China is rife with anti-Japanese sentiment, partially due to the horrible crimes Japan committed against Chinese civilians during there long war and occupation, and partially due to the fact that the communist party finds it convenient to focus people on a foreign enemy to deflect public anger away from them and raise nationalism.

When I first got to Japan I shrugged off most of this as just sour grapes. They were talking about some pretty old crimes and just couldn't seem to let it go. But the more I learned about how the Japanese treat there history today the more I agreed with the Chinese. Unlike Germany who after WWII made a huge effort to confront and apologize for what happened, Japan's attitude has always been somewhere between, "It happened a long time ago," and "You would have done it to us had you gotten the chance." Americans ted not to know as much about Japanese atrocities during WWII and German ones, but the number of people killed by the Japanese was also staggering. In China in particular they endorsed the wholesale slaughter of civilians in many occupied areas, in a mix of brutal colonialism and the sort of rape and pillage attitude armies had in the middle ages. In America this also gets downplayed somewhat do to some form of national guilt about ending the war with two atomic bombs. Finally we always tend to overlook the past wrongs of our current allies and Japan has been a strong friend of America since the end of WWII.

But in China there is still a deep resentment and some rubs off. Not only in China though is there still historical anger at the Japanese. South Korea still violently disputes some islands with Japan, oddly even North Korea can get behind the south when Japan in the enemy. And in a lot of other countries in Asia I've visited there are monuments and museums to what the Japanese did during WWII. My point here isn't so much to discuss the past but to note I was pretty suppressed when I realized how much more negative my opinion of Japan had become after living in China.