Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Not Rule the World” – Part 5/12

Fourth Question [Parfitt]:

Apart from business and trade, what does China have to offer the world?

Answer [Lofthouse]:

The PRC was the first Chinese government to attempt systematically to reduce both inequality and poverty offering the world a lesson on how to reduce poverty and illiteracy on a scale unmatched in global history.

In addition, the respect accorded to teachers and the merit-based educational system offered to the world a lesson when 15-year-old Shanghai students placed first in every category in the 2009 International PISA test. The only Western nation that came close was tiny Finland.

These achievements may be attributed to Confucius’s teachings.

Henry Kissinger says it best, and I agree. “China’s exceptionalism is cultural. China does not proselytize; it does not claim that its contemporary institutions are relevant outside China.”

However, China’s accomplishments to improve the quality of life since 1982 offer many lessons to learn from.

Chinese culture is mostly about the collective mindset of the family. Western culture focuses on the self-esteem and happiness of the individual to the exclusion of long-term cultural survival as Niall Ferguson points out in Civilization: The West and the Rest.

Ferguson says, “The West’s reign is coming to an end as it loses faith in itself.”

A better explanation may be found from a Gallup study by Richard Burkholder and Raksha Arora that concluded, “With greater levels of affluence, the importance of the capitalist work ethic begins to erode, and the end becomes self-expression…”

For these reasons, many in China want nothing to do with the evolution of the West’s political and cultural institutions.

Emperor Qianlong’s 1793 letter to King George III demonstrates what most Chinese believe. “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious.”

In this letter, Emperor Qianlong points out the differences between the West and China and that the West has nothing to offer China.

That changed after the Opium Wars in the 19th century due to the West gaining a slight technological advantage in weaponry.

Today, we see China catching up and when it does, will it say that the West has nothing to offer China beyond technology already gained?

Response [Parfitt]:

The PRC reduced inequality (A) and poverty (B), offering the world an unparalleled lesson on how to reduce poverty (B) and illiteracy (C)?

In terms of GDP per capita, the IMF lists China in 94th spot, with $7,519. What, then, does China have to teach the 93 countries above it about poverty reduction? Ditto that question for literacy, where the UN lists China in 68th spot.

The CCP has made great strides toward improving the lot of its citizenry, and may have something to teach the developing world – but not the developed one. China is not a developed nation. It’s listed on the UN’s Human Development Index (a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and living standards) in 101st spot.

Moreover, though the CCP has worked to reduce poverty and inequality, it has adopted an economic model that, by its own admission, has created the world’s sharpest rich-poor divide.

Final Word [Lofthouse]:

The answer for “C” should be “ALL OF THE ABOVE”, which is correct.

I find the rankings you list interesting but meaningless.

In fact, a better measurement compares China’s poverty reduction with India, the world’s largest democracy. For example, the CIA Factbook says “absolute poverty” in China is 2.8%while India is listed at 25%.

In addition, the CIA says China’s public debt is 17.3% of GDP while India’s is 50.6%.

Even more shocking, the CIA reports 15.1% of the US population lives in poverty while the US public debt is 61.9% of GDP.

Another example would be to discover what life was like in China before the CCP became the only government in China’s history to set goals that have reduced both inequality and poverty dramatically. To learn more, read a poverty study of China written by David C. Schak, an Associate Professor at Griffith University in Australia.

Continued on December 2, 2011 in Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” – Part 6 or return to Part 4.

See Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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24 Responses to Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Not Rule the World” – Part 5/12

  1. Parfitt asked, “what does China have to offer the world?”

    Well, I found another answer and it comes from a Blog in India.

    Worth reading to find out more about how Communist China’s public education system works and is adapting and changing to be more competitive and innovative.

    “Lessons Americans and Schools All Over The World Can Learn from China” [a guest post by Kaitlyn Cole] on Rashid’s Blog [in India]

    http://rashidfaridi.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/lessons-american-and-schools-all-over-the-world-can-learn-from-china/

  2. Terry K Chen says:

    “Lloyd, what percentage of America’s foreign policy over the decades has been a force for good and what for evil? I would put it at 80-20, in favor of good (higher than the ratio you gave for Mao).”

    Is this a joke?

    • Terry,

      I’m not sure if it is a joke, which is why I asked him for a link to his source for that figure to see if it comes from one of the neoconservative nation building think tanks or maybe from FOX news or from some other element of Murdock’s neoconservative media empire.

  3. Robert Scott Kelly says:

    Lloyd, what percentage of America’s foreign policy over the decades has been a force for good and what for evil? I would put it at 80-20, in favor of good (higher than the ratio you gave for Mao).

    And comparing like to like, what foreign policy successes can we attribute to the Chinese? Have they brought North Korean in from the cold? Put pressure on the junta in Burma? Aided in the war against terror without first a quid pro quo calculation? Used their leverage in Africa for good? Become rational over the Taiwan issue and reduced the military buildup?

    I find it perverse that in your writing so far, Mao has been described as a force for good, but the US is only a source of misery, birth defects, discrimination and death.

    • Robert Scott Kelly,

      You said, “higher than the ratio you [meaning me] gave for Mao”

      I did not give a ratio for Mao.

      I believe it was Troy Parfitt that mentioned the ratio in one of his questions or responses. I have read of this ratio before but I have no opinion on what the ratio should be. For sure, Mao deserves some credit for improving the lifespan and lifestyles of the Chinese through the land distribution policy and the barefoot doctors that is responsible for increasing life span and moving about 70% of the population out of severe poverty but he also deserved discredit for his failures that caused suffering and deaths among some segments of the population. Who better to decide that than the Chinese themselves. The judgment of several hundred million Chinese must count for something.

      I have no personal ratio for Mao and do not pretend to have enough information to come up with one. To do so, would be somewhat arrogant on my part.

      That 70% good and 30% bad ratio comes from the Chinese and/or the Chinese Communist Party, and unless I am mistaken, that ratio came out of Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring based on the ratio of complaints from that time.

      Beijing Spring refers to a brief period of political liberalization in the People’s Republic of China, which occurred in 1977 and 1978.

      During the Beijing Spring, the general public [outside the Chinese Communist Party] was allowed greater freedom to criticize the government than the Chinese people had previously been allowed. Most of this criticism was directed towards the Cultural Revolution and the government’s behavior during that time, and those criticisms from the general public were made public with what was called the Democracy Wall Movement, which was a long brick wall on Xidan Street in Beijing, which became the focus for democratic dissent.

      When the criticisms were starting to get out of hand, the Party closed the public part of them down and stopped them. I doubt that the criticisms stopped in the privacy of families and among friends. Since so many Chinese took part in the horrible insanity of the Cultural Revolution, many prefer to not discuss what they did unless they were a victim and not one of the tormentors and torturers that were involved in denunciations of teachers, the educated and successful business people.

      I suspect the Party came up with the 70 to 30% split based on the fact that the majority of the complaints and criticisms from the people during that Beijing Spring focused on the Cultural Revolution and not the rest of Mao’s 26 years in power, and the worst part of the Cultural Revolution covers about a third of his rule, which raises an interesting point. When the Chinese public outside the Party were given a chance to complain about the Party and Mao’s rule, why not also bring up the famine that took place during the Great Leap Forward and blame that on the Party too? Why wouldn’t that famine that many in the West [including Mr. Parfitt] blame on Mao have received equal criticism alongside the Cultural Revolution if those complaints from the West were valid?

      As for a ratio of 80% good for America’s foreign policy and 20% bad, I’ve never heard of or seen of such a ratio. Would you provide a link to the study or article that came up with that ratio. I would like to read it and see how they came up with it and whom the source is.

    • “I find it perverse that in your writing so far, Mao has been described as a force for good, but the US is only a source of misery, birth defects, discrimination and death.”

      Where have I said, “The US is only a source of misery, birth defects, discrimination and death?”

      When I do mention in my posts that the US is not perfect, I use examples from the US and its history to show that China is not alone in corruption and misery but that it happens in the US and the world at large too.

      When someone such as Mr. Parfitt criticizes China and the Chinese, he does so without mentioning that whatever he criticizes China for is also a Global problem and the US is not perfect either. Instead, he crucifies China as if everyone else in the world is perfect and only China is flawed while US history shows that is far from true.

      The US started out as a one party republic where only 10% of the population was allowed to vote and those people were all white men that owned property and/or businesses. Women and children belonged to men as property and could be sold and bought and this wouldn’t start to change for more than 140 years from the founding of the republic.

      In addition, in the thirteen southern States, more than a million African-Americans were slaves. It took about ninety years before the American Civil War ended slavery and that war was the bloodiest war fought on US soil in American history. However, women and children were still the property of men up until the early 20th century when women were given the vote and the right to own property and a few years later the Child Labor laws changed the world for children in America from one of possible slavery to one where children had to go to school to earn an education and better their lives as free individuals. America is not perfect and if Americans criticize China for its failings and flaws, then they must be willing to face the history that shows the US was equally bad or worse at some time in its own history.

      Prove that anything I say when comparing China to America is wrong. Jesus Christ once said let he who has no guilt cast the first stone. The US as a nation with a blemished history of its own has no right to cast stones at China without admitting its own shame. When I compare American history to China’s history, I’m revealing the hypocrisy of those that criticized China without giving equal criticisms to the US and since the first amendment of the US Constitution gives me this right, I will continue to do so.

    • Robert Scott Kelly,

      You claimed that I say the US is only a source of misery, birth defects, discrimination and death. In fact, I’ve never said the US is “only a source” for these things.

      However, since you brought up the topic of birth defects, I decided to respond with one horrible example of how wonderful the United States really is.

      Agent Orange & Birth Defects
      THE LEGACY CONTINUES
      By Betty Mekdeci

      The soldiers are dying. But, even more tragically, the children they have left behind are suffering. Sometimes at Birth Defect Research for Children we hear from veterans, but usually it is wives and children who send us poignant messages:

      “I lost my husband from a cancerous brain tumor 13 months ago. My son has many disabilities, including Tourette’s syndrome, mental retardation, mild cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and he is profoundly deaf. He will never be able to live on his own.”

      An impressive body of scientific evidence points to increases in birth defects and developmental problems in the children of Vietnam veterans and others exposed to dioxin-like chemicals.

      Source: http://www.vva.org/veteran/1207/agent_orange_feature.html

      Agent Orange: Birth defects plague Vietnam; U.S. slow to help U.S., Vietnam split over whether defoliants used in war are to blame Her vivid memories are supported by data from spraying missions analyzed by the Tribune, which show at least seven sorties that dispensed nearly 13,000 gallons of defoliants passed over Kieu’s fields.

      Since then, the story of Kieu’s life can be told with simple, heartbreaking math. She had eight children. Seven of them were born with severe deformities. Of those, five died before age 8. She also lost her husband, who served in the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese army, to cancers associated with herbicide exposure.

      Decades after the Vietnam War ended, the most contentious question surrounding the use of defoliants by the U.S. military is the impact on the health of untold numbers of Vietnamese.

      The U.S. government spent $13.7 billion last year on disability payments for more than 1 million Vietnam veterans, many of whom were exposed to herbicides. Millions more have been spent compensating veterans’ families whose children were born with birth defects. But U.S. officials bristle at acknowledging connections between the defoliants and illnesses in Vietnam.

      Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/agentorange/chi-agent-orange3-dec08,0,2946008.story

      Agent Orange: Diseases Related to Agent Orange Exposure

      Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits for diseases that VA has recognized as related to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides.

      Surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and died as the result of diseases related to Agent Orange exposure may be eligible for survivors’ benefits.

      Source: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp

      Note from Lloyd Lofthouse: I suggest you click on the VA link and read the list of diseases related to Agent Orange Exposure. I served a tour of combat in Vietnam in 1966 as a United States Marine, and I am listed on the Agent Orange list with the VA, which means my medical is covered 100% by the U.S. Government through the VA if I end up with any of the diseases considered linked to Agent Orange

      One question: Do you how the U.S. started the Vietnam War and why?

      • Robert Scott Kelly says:

        Lloyd, I am not going to get sidetracked into a discussion on Vietnam. I am quite familiar with what happened there, and not being an American, I have no need to minimize the tragedy.

        Regarding Mao, you write:

        ” I did not give a ratio for Mao.

        I believe it was Troy Parfitt that mentioned the ratio in one of his questions or responses. I have read of this ratio before but I have no opinion on what the ratio should be. For sure, Mao deserves some credit for improving the lifespan and lifestyles of the Chinese through the land distribution policy and the barefoot doctors that is responsible for increasing life span and moving about 70% of the population out of severe poverty but he also deserved discredit for his failures that caused suffering and deaths among some segments of the population. Who better to decide that than the Chinese themselves. The judgment of several hundred million Chinese must count for something.

        I have no personal ratio for Mao and do not pretend to have enough information to come up with one. To do so, would be somewhat arrogant on my part.”

        I’m sorry but you are either forgetting what you wrote earlier, or being rather disingenuous here. In your response to Troy you mention the Museum of Tragedy which offers an explanation on where the ratio may come from. You then proceed to write several hundred words explaining why Mao could be considered both good and bad, referring to writers such as Henry Kissinger and Judith Banister. It certainly sounds like you are informed enough to make a decision on the ratio. In fact you end by saying that the ratio deserves to be higher than 50-50:

        “Facts show that more people benefited from Mao’s “good” policies than those that suffered from the “bad”. However, critics in the West prefer to focus on a glass almost empty instead of admitting the glass was more than half-full.”

        No one says “facts show” if they are not familiar with the facts. And despite your claims that it would be arrogant to come up with a ratio on your part, you have little trouble condescending to western critics whose ratio is below 50% (the glass half empty). Perhaps you don’t in fact believe in any ratios, but would simply like to argue that Mao’s legacy is not entirely bad. It would be good if you clarified this as opposed to making strong statements and then backing away from them.

        As for my own ratio on American foreign policy, it should have been obvious I made that up; but having lived in an ethnic Chinese society for a while one gets good at bending reality with a few well-chosen numbers. I think it is blindingly obvious that the Chinese use the 70-30 ratio to sooth over/obfuscate/defend/bury/sanitize an extremely troubled period in their history and that it is not in fact a rational studied socio-political formula.

        In any case, my original point was to ask you to compare like to like. You asserted that US foreign policy has contributed greater misery to the world than China’s. I thought that a rather biased position and asked if you would not allow for the same calculus as for Mao: ie, that there is both good and bad in US foreign policy and that the good clearly outweighs the bad. You have tellingly avoided this, but instead asked me to read the history of agent orange as if I were some prancing patriot.

      • Mr. Kelly,

        The quotes you took from me are twisted out of context and you cannot prove from anything that I wrote that I placed a percentage ratio on the Mao era.

        At most, I was stating an ambiguous opinion and throwing out possibilities.

        I have read experts that claim about 100 million Chinese suffered (I am not saying died) from some of Mao’s policies at a time when China’s population was about 600 million. Such a statement leads us to the conclusion that while millions suffering many more benefited from Mao’s policies.

        That concludes that those that survived the famine that took place during the GLF and The Cultural Revolution, regardless of any suffering of any type, mostly benefited in the end from the increased life span and quality of life that has been documented from reliable Western sources starting with 1949.

        If we use this ratio of 100 million people based on the total population of 600 million, one could claim that more than 83% of the population benefited during the Mao era while about 17% suffered and some of that 17% died due to his policies that were more Orwellian in nature.

        Therefore, instead of the 70/30 percent ratio consensus that came out of Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring, maybe Mao should have earned an 83/17 percent ratio.

        Alternatively, we could use the higher inflated death rate claims from Western authors such as Mr. Parfitt that 70 million deaths were due to Mao’s policies, which means that 530 million survived to benefit from that increase life span that could not have happened without an improved quality of life and health.

        In that case, the ratio should be 87/13 percent.

        In comparison, we could also use the lowest death rate figure of about 16.5 million and come up with a ratio of of 97/3 percent.

        All of these different ways to evaluate the Mao era leads us to a question: Which ratio do you choose?

        a. 70/30%
        b. 83/17%
        c. 87/13%
        d. 97/3%
        e. none of the above

        If you selected “e”, what ratio would you give Mao and what evidence would you use to support that ratio?

        In retrospect, now that you have led me to examine the evidence closer, I cannot support the 50/50 percent possibility that I mentioned in my comment that you have criticized as biased in favor of Mao. From this new evidence, it would appear that I was wrong and Mao [even when we consider all of his faults as a leader] may deserve more credit than he received even from his own people.

        However, that is not for me to decide. Only history will decide that and to receive a fair judgment a century or more may have to pass until most of the bias demonstrated against Mao from the West at this time has mostly died out.

  4. Aussie in China says:

    Mr Parfitt you wrote:
    “In terms of GDP per capita, the IMF lists China in 94th spot, with $7,519. What, then, does China have to teach the 93 countries above it about poverty reduction?”

    $7,519 has a lot of buying power in many parts of China. In my particular location, my wife and I lead quite a comfortable existance on $400 – $450 a month or about $6 or $7 dollars each per day all inclusive – food, telecommunications, utilities, entertainment, clothing etc. You name it

    As a rule of thumb, my dollar here usually goes 5 times as far.
    And as a platitude, “Everything is relevant”

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