A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 2/6

September 28, 2011

When you discover the roller-coaster ride of corruption, protests, shootings/assassinations, and military coups/dictatorships that have taken place in the Republic of (South) Korea [RoK], it makes Japan look honest in comparison and provides more evidence of why the West and America, in particular, wants China to become a similar multi-party democracy.

On August 14, 1948, Syngman Rhee became the first president of the RoK. In May 1952, Rhee pushed through constitutional amendments, which made the presidency a directly elected position. To do this, he declared martial law, arrested opposing members of parliament, demonstrators, and anti-government groups.  In 1954, Rhee regained control of parliament by fraudulently pushing through an amendment that exempted him from the eight-year term limit.

Then in 1956,  Rhee’s administration arrested members of the opposing party and executed the leader after accusing him of being a North Korean spy.

The U.S. Department of State says, “President Syngman Rhee was forced to resign in April 1960 following a student-led uprising.”

The Second Republic under the leadership of Chang Myon ended one  year later when Major General Park Chung-hee led a military coup. Park declared martial law, dissolved the National Assembly and suspended the constitution, which resulted in mass protests and a return to democracy.

Park’s rule, which resulted in tremendous economic growth and development but increasingly restricted political freedoms, ended with his assassination in 1979, when a powerful group of military officers, led by Lieutenant General Chun Doo-hwan, declared martial law and took power.

Then on May 18, 1980, students at Chonnam National University protested, which led to the Gwangju Massacre with estimates of the civilian death toll ranging from a few dozen to 2,000. Later, a full investigation by the civilian government reported nearly 200 deaths and 850 injured.

It wouldn’t be until October 1987 that a revised Constitution would be approved by a national referendum leading to the direct elections of President Roh Tae-woo in the first direct presidential election in 16 years.

In 1997, the country suffered a severe economic crises leading to the next civilian president, Roh Moo-hyun being impeached in March 2004 on charges of a breach of election laws and corruption. While under investigation for bribery and corruption, he committed suicide.

Roh’s successor was Lee Myung-bak, who was inaugurated in February 2008 and is still in office.

The CIA says 15% of the RoK’s population lives below the poverty line, while poverty in the United States in 2009 was 14.3%.

In August 2011, CBS reported that 20 percent of American children lived in poverty.

In fact, Homelessness in America remains an issue of deep concern. The American dream is a distant one for about 2.3 million to 3.5 million Americans that do not have a place to call home and about 1.35 million of the homeless are children.

Continued on September 29, 2011 in A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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SIDE NOTE: The Gwangju Massacre (1980) in The Republic of (South) Korea—a strong ally of the United States—is the second massacre “I never heard of” while writing this Blog.

However, annually, the media and American politicians remind us of the so-called Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, which I wrote of in The Tiananmen Square Hoax after learning from Wiki Leaks that a massacre never happened.

In addition, the protests in Beijing in 1989 were never a democracy movement, which was revealed by a BBC documentary. I wrote of this in What is the Truth about Tiananmen Square?

Then there was the first massacre “I never heard of” until I stumbled on it by accident while researching another post. I wrote of that massacre [by a strong ally of America] in the 2/28 Massacre in Taiwan.

Why is it that the world knows so much about the Tiananmen Square Incident while hardly anyone knows about the Gwangju Massacre and the one in Taiwan?

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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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Looking at WikiChina

December 5, 2010

Writing for the New York Times about WikiLeaks, Thomas Friedman, the author of “The World is Flat” and the winner of several Pulitzer prizes, recently wrote a humorous but painfully honest post, From WikiChina, of what China’s Washington Embassy e-mails to Beijing may say of America.

I had to resist copying Friedman’s entire post but will point out a few of his gems.

“They fight over things like – we are not making this up – how and where an airport security officer can touch them.”

“It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran.”

“But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how “exceptional” they are.”

“Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it.”

If you want to have a good laugh or possibly shed tears because this truth is painful, I suggest you read all of Friedman’s post.

Discover more of Friedman at China’s Green Challenge

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Bullying China over North Korea is a Mistake

December 5, 2010

I keep reading in the Western media and on the Internet that China is the bad boy for not taming North Korea even as WikiLeaks shows that China doesn’t have that much influence over the Hermit Kingdom.

One example comes from Jack Kim, a reporter in Seoul working for Reuters, who writes, “China, pushed again by Washington to bring North Korea to heel after last week’s artillery attack on the South, told Pyongyang their relationship had withstood international ‘tempests’.”

If everything we hear about the Hermit Kingdom is true, I must admit this is one country I wouldn’t want to visit.

However, why is China being bullied by the West to tame a beast it cannot control?

The answer is “Humanitarianism”, a concept born among the West’s democracies.

Remaking the World by Michael Barnett says, “Religious beliefs and organizations, most notably those influenced by Christian theology and ethics, helped to create modern humanitarianism in the early nineteenth century and have shaped its expanding scale, scope, and significance ever since.”

At Helium.com, I learned that “Humanitarianism” is the belief that the person was the most important aspect of society, and that it was important to value the individual over the group.

However, in Asia, especially China and North Korea, the group is valued above the individual. After all, China and North Korea along with other Asian nations are collective cultures.

This means that the West’s concept of “Humanitarianism” may not work in most of Asia.

Here’s what a definition for “Humanitarianism” in Asia might say—The belief that the group is the most important aspect of society and that it is important to value the group over the individual.

It this definition is correct, it would explain the death sentence rate in China and harsh punishments for individuals that threaten “Collective Humanitarianism”.

In fact, the real risk to the survival of humanity may be when Westerners take their beliefs to the extreme resulting in “Armed Humanitarianism”.

Top Feed News says, “Armed Humanitarians (by Nathan Hodge) traces how the concepts of nation-building came into vogue, and how, evangelized through think tanks, government seminars, and the press, this new doctrine took root inside the Pentagon and the State Department. Following this extraordinary experiment in armed social work as it plays out from Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa and Haiti…”

The Huffington Post says, “Nathan Hodge is no neophyte on security issues. He has reported from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and a number of other countries in the Middle East and former Soviet Union. For years he blogged on Wired magazine’s well known Danger Room blog and now reports on the defense industry for the Wall Street Journal.”

What happens if the West influences China to leave Confucian collectivism behind and to embrace the West’s humanitarian beliefs as flawed as they may have become?

Maybe an individualist, humanitarian China would become America’s partner in “Armed Humanitarianism” and divide the globe into a pie chart eventually leading to a third world war between China and the US to see who eats the whole pie.

Then hundreds of millions will die and the earth’s environment would be devastated to protect the rights of the individual.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.