Anger, Oppression, and Courage

May 12, 2010

In the West, it is common to air public or private corruption so the world sees. In China, it is best not to talk about embarrassing problems publicly. Unfortunately, this practice allows individuals in public office to spend lavishly.

When China considers reforms that go against cultural habits, the government moves cautiously and studies the results. Why experiment with change at all?  Because the people show courage and demand changes and this noise cannot be ignored for long.

In Chongqing, an experiment in rural land reform is taking place designed to lift economic oppression from the backs of the rural poor so they benefit from the growing economy. This is the only province where rural land reforms are being tested on a provincial scale. If this works, these reforms may spread to other provinces calming rural anger.

Baimiao, a Sichuan township, is experimenting with financial transparency that has been termed “Naked Government.” So far, results look promising.  For China to combat political corruption, financial transparency is necessary.

In another test, a Cultural Revolution museum in Shantou (Guangdong district) is a message that history is a warning not to make the same mistakes twice. The museum gets about 1,000 visitors a day.

The size of each experiment may signal the importance of each. One covers a province. Two are only in towns. The first experiment took place soon after Mao died. That test was an open market leading to China’s ever changing, booming economy. Maybe these latest tests, if successful, will lead to similar results.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Museums of Tragedy

May 7, 2010

The atrocities committed in Europe during World War II are well known accept maybe in Iran where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed the Holocaust never happened.

Regardless of Lame Brain Mahmoud, the Global Directory of Holocaust Museums tells us how widespread this knowledge is. It’s when we forget about history that we tend to repeat it.  Simon Wiesenthal said, “Freedom is not a gift from heaven…you must fight for it every day.”

Admitting the truth is the first step toward healing and avoiding similar tragedies again. “There is Chinese proverb which says you should use history as a mirror,” Peng Qian, a former deputy mayor of Shantou, said.

A scene from the Cultural Revolution

The official Communist Party line is that Mao was 70 per cent good and 30 per cent bad… However, the first museum inside China that focuses on the atrocities of the Cultural Revolution proves otherwise.  This museum was built near the industrial port city of Shantou in the Guangdong district. Source: Frum Forum, The Independent and the Washington Post.

Considering how secretive China’s collective culture is, this first museum demonstrates how far China has come since Mao’s death in 1976. As China open like a flower, one day there may be a list of Cultural Revolution Museums to equal the Holocaust Museums.

To discover more about China, read Facts about China that will blow your mind.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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