Archive for the ‘hist466’ Category

China In Ten Words

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The last three chapters of China in Ten Words reveal phenomena about China that are supposed to be revolutionary and provoke the masses. I don’t think “grassroots,” “copycat,” or “bamboozle” represent any revolutionary sentiments or even overly provocative. I think this book’s censorship made it seem more appealing to the masses than its content even reveals. The “grassroots” chapter talks about the people in China’s society that go against the mainstream and find creative ways to operate in the economic and governmental system. They typically aren’t overly educated, but still find ways to make money and live comfortably. I don’t believe the “grassroots” example shows any real issue with China, it just highlights people who are forced by necessity to innovate.

The “copycat” article talked about the phenomena of Chinese companies making knock-off cellphones, cameras, and other goods without investing in the R&D, turning quick and large profits. Yeah, they aren’t ethical companies by business standards, but they make money and are extremely adaptive making them hard to stop. Again, I don’t see this chapter as anything Chinese people don’t already see and recognize. They are well aware of the knock-off brands and aren’t concerned with them, especially because of the rapid economic boom during the 80′s and 90′s.

The “bamboozle” chapter too, is not unfamiliar to people in China. I think it draws the most provocative sentiments, but still is not overly radical. Of course people try to pull fast-ones on the government to avoid persecution. People will always be adaptive and try to avoid negative governmental actions. It happens in every country. It is certainly not going to persuade the people to rebel against the government, because the sentiment is already throughout the masses.

Coal Mining Outline

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Completing my outline is a huge step forward preparing for the paper. My thesis is:

“China’s opening of the economy and rapid expansion of private enterprise resulted in unexpected regulatory enforcement issues for the State. Specifically in the mining industry, the expansion of the economy placed huge demands on energy, resulting in coal mines opening to meet demand, but absent from regulatory safety protocols to protect the safety of their workers. The State was/is unable to keep up with the regulatory protocols throughout the mining industry, resulting in a massive death rate for coal miners.”

With that in mind, I was able to find plenty of reports on accidents through out China and the data to reflect trends over the last ten years. China is producing 2x the amount of coal their were ten years ago, but accidents are slowly declining as the Party chooses to enforce regulations stronger.

From hear, condensing my outline into a paper is my main goal.

“Blind Shaft”

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

This weeks reading by Michael Dutton shares a really unique theme to the film “Blind Shaft” that I didn’t first recognize until attempting to link the two pieces. Dutton mentions the Chinese word liu, which means “to float.” It is used in reference to the migrant members of Chinese society that populate the cities, yet never incorporate the urban culture. Their style dress, accents and speech patterns mark them as inherently undesirable. They are  seen pejoratively, without purpose or footing in the local society. Similarly, the coal miners portrayed in “Blind Shaft” are viewed by the bosses in a similar fashion. The workers are without any worth, merely cogs with in an infinite supply of willing laborers. Chinese people became a commodity, and no longer exist with in a unifying ideology.

Chinese Coal Mining- Primary Source Analysis

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

My paper covers the frequent and often political nature of coal mining operations in China and how they interact in the political arena and public at large. A particularly poignant primary source I found on the China Digital Times website delves directly into this issue. It covers how Chinese officials bribed journalists a total of 2.6 million yuan ($380,000) not to report a mining accident that resulted in 35 people dying.  The officials also bribed the families of the victims not to say anything, keeping the accident unknown for a total of 85 days.

The cover-up represents  massive cultural and societal issues within the country, such as how to reconcile official’s fear and the need to keep face with higher officials. It also took place just before the 2008 Olympics, significant because the country as a whole was trying to appear in the best light possible, even to the extent of cover-ups such as these.

I think this source will help provide context and examples to how the government operates with regard to mining accidents. It also reveals some insight into why the leaders at the top of the party struggle to remedy such issues and rid corruption, because often times the free flow of information is impeded by the fear of reparations.

“China to Try 58 Accused of Covering Up Mine Deaths.” China Digital Times, November 30,        2009. (accessed February 12,2013.)


Chinese Poster

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

This poster was published in 1983 just as the Party was continuing to advocate against corruption. The writing reads, “Foster a correct spirit, resist the evil spirit, resist corruption, never get involved with it,” representing many facets of the Party’s goals. First of all, the male appears to be a confident, relaxed white collar worker who was keeping logs on whatever work he was doing. It appears as though her is a person of authority, probably just regionally or locally. The man that he represents however is likely recreated all over China, with workers, businessmen, civil servants, and village heads. The motion of his hand shows his denial of accepting seemingly “corrupt” or “bad” gifts. He does not want to accept the bottles of liqueur presented with a bow, or the cartons of cigarets. Both of which are bad for your health, but likely represent broader issues. One such issue is bribery. The man in power, with his confident, yet temperate facial expression, is denying a bribe. He is fulfilling the parties aim of not being corrupt.

Where is it succeeds is in its humanity. It is not unrealistic for workers to receive gifts, even if as simple as wine and cigarets. And he doesn’t make a huge scene about it or seem angry or obtuse. He simply raises his hand as if to say,” no thanks.” Small decisions such as that repeated throughout the entire country would become huge, and hopefully squash corruption.

Mining in China

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Specifically, I’d like to explore the mining operations and what sort of climate they operate under.  The mining accident in Guizhou that killed 18 people last November seems particularly interesting. I would like to explore what events led to the accident, as well as how the public perceived it.  I would also like to compare reactions of other miners compared to official statements issued by the government and press.  This accident was only one amongst many others, resulting in roughly 2,000 people killed in mining accidents over the last year.

The ChinaDigitalTimes website has many articles speaking towards the accidents. They include quotes and reactions as well. Another strong website is which is sponsored by the China Mining Association. This is a more formal representation of mining from the government’s perspective, rather than critical. It speaks to the mission of the mining companies and how they want to regulate operations more to protect the workers and environment, but it will be interesting to discover if it is actually accurate. EbiscoHost is also very source rich, with information on mining practices and policies, as well as critiques. One such piece is from Jerry Tien who wrote a critique of surface mining operations in China. Another such article is by Jennifer Qinghua Wang on the financial side of mining, and how they are able to finance the industry.

Collectively, these sources shed light on a lot of aspects of China’s mining industry, and I am not sure what direction I want to take it, but the topic does seem to have plenty of sources to focus my research with.

Li Tongzhong

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The story of Li Tongzhong is fascinating in how it deals with critiquing the Great Leap Forward. It is critical, yet tactful in still maintaining a positive look back at the theory behind the Great Leap. I think when Li Tongzhong hit rock bottom and went to the grain silo to ask for 50,000 pounds of grain, the magnitude of the farmers’ plight was really felt. He described the farmers as immensely loyal communist workers, who truly believed in reform. They worked from sun up to sun down, freely providing the country with grain. They were described as pouring everything into the land reform, and tirelessly giving like a “mother spoiling her daughter.” But even after that, Tongzhong describes the state not as a draconian force purposely starving the workers, but blamed the mechanism that unfortunately over speculated grain production due to benevolent ambitions. Those in charge meant well, but the rhetoric eventually left the villagers without any food.

I think by 1979 when the story was published, the author meant to shed light on how the Great Leap Forward did in fact destroy the farming populations via starvation, yet he was tactful in not explicitly blaming the communist government. He blames the individuals who wanted so desperately to reach communism that they promised too much, and as a result those in the villages suffered. The author revealed how terrible it was for the farmers, yet still showed glimpses of hope and idealism. He was certainly critical of how the Leap played out, but remained loyal to the ideology behind the movement.

Young and Restless in China

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The documentary “Young and Restless in China” shed greater insight into China’s growing ideological gap between generations. In particular, the question each younger generation person ask internally on how they fit in with the government and if they should stand up for their rights, or remain in fear. One segment that emphasized this conflict was illustrated with the young lawyer on her quest to fight for environmental rights. The build up to the 2008 Olympic games further intensified building projects throughout the country, and consequentially negatively affected many people and villages. Whether it was government controlled construction of power lines that never received permits, or public mining operations that devastated the local populations, civil rights violations are happening often. This young lawyer decided to stand up for many of the affected citizens and attempt legally to enact change. The rising middle class want fair and just laws, which they are prepared to fight for. Meanwhile, the older generation still is hesitant to cross the state, fearful of the repercussions.