Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Panic at the top in China

South China Morning Post
Insight
2012-07-19

Lanxin Xiang says a game-changing moment has arrived: either the Communist Party finds a way to rejuvenate and lead China towards prosperity and stability, or it prepares for a near-term hard landing

As the 18th Communist Party congress fast approaches, the leadership in Beijing is trying to do everything possible to stimulate popular enthusiasm and public spirit. But nothing seems to be working. The Bo Xilai affair continues to haunt the process of the upcoming power transition.

Few party members deny that this affair has done equal, if not more, damage to the image of the Communist Party as the 1989 Tiananmen affair. But in 1989 the students merely protested against price inflation and the corruption of some officials, which triggered panicky reaction from Deng Xiaoping . Now the consensus is that sending military troops to suppress a student protest is one of the biggest mistakes the party had ever committed.

Today, the Bo Xilai affair has exposed a pseudo-socialist system rotten to the core, since official corruption through the power-money marriage has become so ostentatious and widespread that the population has begun to compare the communist regime directly with the Kuomintang regime under General Chiang Kai-shek before 1949.

One popular story concerns Madam Chiang. In 1946, General George Marshall – president Harry Truman’s personal envoy, chosen to mediate a peaceful solution between the communists and the KMT – tried to persuade Madam Chiang to urge her husband to eliminate official corruption and launch serious democratic reforms. Marshall used the Chinese communists as a positive example, as the latter were propagating “new democracy” in China at the time. Madam Chiang reportedly replied: “The problem is, the communists have not tasted power yet. If they do, they will behave the same.” Madam Chiang is considered prophetic.

Another story concerns a book about the origins of the French Revolution of 1789, written by the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, and widely circulated among members of the top leadership. Widespread psychological insecurity about the country’s future and the official obsession with “pre-revolutionary” conditions – reflected by social instability – seem to converge. They point to a simple consensus that serious political reforms can no longer be postponed.

The problem is, interest-group politics has become deeply entrenched today, as happened with the Chiang Kai-shek regime in the 1940s. Few inside and outside of the communist party have confidence that political reforms can work without cracking the party itself.

Since everyone recognises the existence of pre-revolutionary signs, the question is how to prevent an eruption.

There are two schools of thought on this. On the one hand, those about to retire from the leadership argue that a “stable” power transition should take absolute priority this year. On the other, many among the “fifth generation” elite believe that a major political shake-up is necessary for tackling the root of the problem. But a “trust deficit” between the party and the people has grown so big that either approach could result in enormous political risk.

If the leadership does not deal with corruption and interest-group politics, the state will be ruined, but if the party tackles the issue seriously, it will be destroyed. This unbearable psychological dilemma makes the party leaders panicky.

The external conditions for China do not help either. For the first time since economic reform started in 1978, complacency about national security and peaceful existence is dissipating. Ten years ago, when President Hu Jintao first proposed the concepts of a “harmonious world” and “peaceful rise”, the world responded with enthusiasm. Today, the China Threat theme returns with a vengeance.

It is true that the US is largely responsible for the worsening geopolitical condition of China, because it has determined that China is the only challenge to its “second to none” status in the world and has designed and executed a brilliant diplomatic campaign to rally support for its new cold war strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. But Chinese missteps have also contributed to this apparent diplomatic isolation. The nationalistic attitude with neighbouring countries over disputed territories and vehement refusal to engage in multilateral diplomacy over maritime problems in the South China Sea do not help improve China’s image or inspire confidence in countries outside China to take its “peaceful rise” seriously.

But, ultimately, a harmonious world depends upon a harmonious society at home. This year, therefore, presents fundamental challenges to the Chinese leadership. A game-changing moment has arrived: either the party finds a way to rejuvenate itself in order to lead the people towards sustained economic prosperity and social stability, or it has to prepare for a hard-landing in the near future.

If the 18th Communist Party congress turns out to be a new game of interest-group politics, the leadership can hardly avoid a deepening crisis both at home and abroad. Time is in fact running out rapidly.

Lanxin Xiang is professor of international history and politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva

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投機政客——錯的永遠是別人,對的永遠是你們

Mingpao
論壇 > 論壇
2012-07-28

陳莊勤

“所謂刁民是社會上不對自己無理行為反思的一群。問題是:我們的政客怎麼了?看他們對官員及公營機構和公共服務機構謾罵的嘴臉,我在想,他們與刁民有什麼分別?”

英國BBC的Knowledge頻道最近因倫敦奧運而播放很多介紹倫敦的Series。6月時有一套3集介紹倫敦地鐵的Series。當中介紹到倫敦地鐵為了乘客及員工的安全,因而很小的事故也會全線停駛。例如6月份有一集介紹晚上繁忙時間一個女人在倫敦唐人街的Leicester Square站被狂徒刺了一刀,坐在月台上等待施救,整條地鐵線便停了一個多小時,沿線很多車站為控制人流,不容許乘客入站,地鐵公司不宣布是什麼事,乘客也習以為常,沒有怨言。

「我不是在這裏給你責罵的」

10號風球第二天在家看電視,BBC Knowledge頻道又是介紹倫敦地鐵,說自從引入了新的列車後,車門感應度很高,只要是乘客背包的帶夾在門中整列車便不能開離車站,要待車長下車查究。那集介紹的Tottenham Court站乘客背包帶夾在門中的事故結果使列車停了10多20分鐘,停在沿線的其他車站的列車也不能動。當進入車站聚集的人愈來愈多,為了安全,控制室便指示月台員工關上車站閘門,不讓更多的乘客進入車站。

片中沿線Waterloo站的員工關閘時,有不能進入的乘客責罵他,那關閘的地鐵員工對罵他的人說:「我不是在這裏給你責罵的,我在這有工作要做。」

我立刻想起同一天的新聞。港鐵因大埔大樹倒塌壓住電纜停駛,10號風球下滯留車站的乘客斯文的埋怨、粗暴的指摘站內的港鐵員工幫不了他們回家,惡形惡相的逼到車站的員工為他們付的士車資。一眾投機的議員政客和嘩眾取寵的媒體還不斷嚷覑要港鐵道歉。

這究竟是怎麼樣的社會?

我們這究竟是怎麼樣的社會?我們這些究竟是什麼樣的市民?

10號風球、大樹壓電纜,是誰的錯?議員媒體為什麼非要港鐵道歉不可?颳颱風、大樹倒塌也是港鐵必須道歉的錯?是非顛倒如此,我們還有民智嗎?更離譜的是鄭家富議員,他自己也覺得港鐵為靠惡霸道的滯留乘客付的士車費不對,但卻說港鐵有責任有車隊接載10號8號風球下滯留的乘客。我想問問鄭議員,若真的有港鐵車隊,港鐵車隊員工真的10號8號風球下開車,港鐵車隊司機的安全,誰去負責?若港鐵車隊真的8號風球下開車接送滯留乘客,鄭議員到時又會不會又指摘港鐵不顧員工安全,要車隊員工8號風球下開車?

議員媒體指摘港鐵大樹壓電纜便即時停車,沒有及早宣布。我又不明白,若不即時停車,列車繼續行駛,這些議員政客和媒體又會怎樣說?說港鐵罔顧人命安全、電纜被壓也照開車?這些政客、媒體評論員,廣東俗語說:「係又鬧,唔係又鬧。神又係你懐,鬼又係你懐。」錯的永遠是別人,對的永遠是你們。

「係又鬧,唔係又鬧」

這些為了選票便不問對錯包庇縱容和助長刁民之風的議員政客,在過去十多年來覑重的是近乎不負責任地不斷鼓吹無限伸展個人的權利而絕少提公民應付的責任和應有的包容。因而這些年來,香港社會慢慢地喪失了我們過去所擁有的包容和理解、反躬和自省的習慣和能力。代之的是這股由刁民、投機政客與嘩眾取寵的媒體合奏出來的歪風。

10號風球第二天早上改為8號風球,天文台早上8點前已經說早上10時前會改掛3號風球,結果9時58分改掛3號風球。接覑的一天,一位母親打電話到電台,說她女兒工作那家在銅鑼灣的百貨公司不近人情,要風球改掛3號後一個半小時回到公司上班;結果,這位母親說,她代她的女兒向公司告假。電台的主持人當然又是幫口指摘百貨公司是無良僱主。

同一天的早上,我的一位住在海怡半島的朋友說,電台早上8時前說天文台會在10時前改掛3號風球,9點還未到、8號風球未下,一些快餐店工作年紀較大的嬸嬸伯伯,已經在巴士站等快要復開的巴士上班了。

懷緬我們那美好的過去

那是對工作和對自己做人態度的問題。從這些8號風球下風雨中等巴士的嬸嬸伯伯中我無奈地懷緬我們那美好的過去,而很清楚知道每天面對更多的是那百貨公司員工的母親、那附和她的電台主持人,和那些什麼事情都罵的政客。這便是香港這種刁民政治,他們的特點是他們永不問自己應負的責任,只是永遠沒有例外地埋怨別人的不負責任。

香港怎麼了?為什麼我們有這樣的社會?

非民選的政府、不是由民選政府監管的公營機構和公共服務機構,沒有認受性,只有被指官商勾結的份兒;無論他們做什麼,對也好、錯也好,只有被罵的份兒。

不民主的社會,造就了不對自己行為負責的人民。因為要負責的官員、負責監管公營機構和公共服務機構的官員不是我們選出來的,那成了刁民撒野的最好藉口。

所謂刁民是社會上不對自己無理行為反思的一群。問題是:我們的政客怎麼了?看他們對官員及公營機構和公共服務機構謾罵的嘴臉,我在想,他們與刁民有什麼分別?

10號風球下,大圍車站內的港鐵員工面對向他們指摘及惡言相向的一小撮乘客,並沒有如倫敦Waterloo站的倫敦地鐵員工一樣理直氣壯地對滯留的乘客說:「我不是在這裏給你責罵的,我在這有工作要做。」他們只默默地很負責任地履行他們的職責。滯留在車站內絕大部分的人也一樣,他們理解他們所遇的困境不是任何人的錯所造成,因而他們也默默地包容。就如8號風球下等巴士復開的嬸嬸伯伯一樣,他們所展示的才是我們希望那寧靜的、自省與包容的香港社會,而不是那些投機政客和嘩眾取寵的媒體鼓吹的事無大小也吵吵鬧鬧的香港。


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元代北國美酒

C04 | 品味旅遊 | 劍河長篙 | By Alan.C |
信報
2012-06-30

天高氣爽,夏風拂面, 在蒙古草原漫步, 由南往北,盤旋的公路,肥沃的田野,成片的果園,棕色的石崖,宛如色彩斑斕的織錦,加上眼前河面寬闊,流勢平緩,浩浩無涯。隨友人到內蒙古烏蘭察布盟察右前旗考察,至元朝集寧路故城,據說此處的元朝文物藝術品不只千百,現大多珍藏於內蒙古博物館中。其中在一大元古墓中早年出土過兩件形狀奇特的盛酒瓶子,俱有遼金時代的紋飾,其瓶身纖細而高,形狀酷似一條雞腿,跟同年代中原酒用器皿設計風格截然不同。

蒙古崛興於地勢高寒的朔北草原,飲酒風氣熾烈,除蒙古馬奶酒外,西域葡萄酒也使蒙古人嗜飲成癖,且用於祭祀,《元史˙世祖紀》有云:宮城中,建葡萄酒室。成吉思汗的軍師、大元中書令耶律楚材亦曾言:「寂寞河中府,連甕及萬家,葡萄親釀酒,杷欖看開花。」

雞腿酒瓶

所謂河中府,乃當今哈薩克中部至新疆西部等地,蒙古帝國時期盛產葡萄美酒,運往帝國北方各處,也不難想像千里草原牧民所用的除了酒瓶以外的酒用器皿,均依照類似那雞腿酒瓶的式樣設計。仔細而看,發現其瓶身肩部刻有細小的「葡萄酒瓶」四個漢字,寫法跟我等沿用的繁體字相約。但帝國之大,所領之地包括今哈薩克土庫曼等地於其時當屬察合台汗國領地,通用的文字大概以八思巴文或梵文的分支為主,出產器皿應不會刻上帝國東部元國應用的漢字。

在中原地區,當時也許只有山西一帶出產葡萄酒,於大唐時期已開始略有名氣。至元朝時,葡萄酒業發展更盛,《馬可波羅行記》有記載,「太原地植有葡萄,質量甚優,釀酒甚饒,為契丹全境唯一產葡萄酒之地。」《元典章》亦有提及,「大都(北京)酒使司於葡萄酒三十分取一」,由此看來元初的河北加上山西已經盛產葡萄酒。太原和北京距察右前旗不過數百哩,那雞腿酒瓶所盛載的大有可能屬山西或河北所產。

當時呼倫貝爾以北有遊牧西伯利亞草原的蒙古人,因天氣寒冷,瓶裏的葡萄美酒均已結冰,據說一次不經意之下使節帶冰飲下,然後發現葡萄酒加冰比蒙古馬奶酒和江南白酒更甘甜清爽。南宋使者出使蒙古時曾言,「金帳中嘗回回貢來之葡萄酒,盛以玻璃瓶,一瓶十餘小盞,味為甚甜。」(回回國指河中的花剌子模國,其時已為蒙古所滅,只是舊稱繼續沿用葡萄牙傳教士Giovannida Piandel Carpine 於大概公元1245 年受教宗Innocentius IV所托出使蒙古,在覲見窩闊台的長子元定宗貴由,在他的金帳中品嘗過東方的葡萄酒,讚歎不已,誇獎其比他們歐洲的還勝一籌。

Alan.C


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在台北胡適故居

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C04 | 品味旅遊 | 回眸英倫 | By 毛羨寧 |
2012-06-30

上月往北京公幹之前,我翻看了許多中國著名大學和大學校長的背景故事,懷念起不少德高望重的文人。「1948年12月中旬,是北京大學建校五十週年的紀念日。此時,解放軍已經包圍了北平城..記得作為校長的適之先生,滿面含笑,做了簡短的講話,只有喜慶的內容,沒有愁苦的調子。」季羨林在1999年到台灣,這樣以短文「站在胡適之先生墓前」來回憶舊朋友。一年前,我也到訪過台北的胡適墓園,並在紀念館門前拍照留念。現在想起門外一句題字:「容忍比自由還更重要」,用在今天的社會顯得特別鏗鏘。

按照胡適的說法,那是他的康乃爾大學老師布林(George Lincoln Burr)所說的:「我年紀愈大,愈感覺到容忍比自由更為重要。」(The older I get, the m ore I feel that tolerance is more important than freedom.)句中「tolerance」也可以譯為寬容。

胡適在台北南港市中央研究院的墓園,就有這種豁然開朗、與世無爭的清靜。

位於台北郊區的中研院,原本交通至為不便,直至1961年公路局新闢南港專線,令中研究學員及南港的居民一併受惠,通車時邀請了胡適校長作典禮的剪綵嘉賓。

五十年後,我乘汽車進入中研院,見到兩旁綠樹成蔭,建築物井然有序,四周充滿了書卷氣,卻不禁想像胡適晚年的情── 1949 年,毛澤東擬定了五十七名戰犯名單,胡適的名字排為第五十五名,次子思杜更公開發表文章《對我父親──胡適的批判》,之後自殺身亡。胡適曾經回到美國,無論以文人或是外交家的身份,也不如舊日般呼風喚雨。他由蔣介石及學界權威推舉為中研究院院長,可算是無奈的結局。

現在台北的胡適紀念館,由故居、陳列室和墓園三部分組成。陳列室展出胡適使用過的物品,例如他生前常戴的黑圓圈眼鏡和長衫,以至西式修鬍子的剃刀用具,可見他對外形儀態一絲不苟。牆上掛着他和韋蓮司(Edith CliffordWilliams)的合照,暗示了他經歷過愛情和遵守孝道的矛盾。館內還有列出很多胡適在政治方面的影響,尤其仔細寫出他和《自由中國》編輯雷震的關係。

「有一分證據,說一分話」可惜紀念館不許拍照,我只好站在這些展品前抄寫註解,被講解員小姐看到,微笑着走過來介紹:「這尊銅像和胡適先生的容貌最神似,你摸摸這裏的橫紋!這證明那時先生的心臟病已經很嚴重了。」她又指着牆上一排電鈴按鈕說:「胡適先生晚年心絞痛時有發作,發病時要按這些按鈕呼救。」她帶我到書房,走廊上一道道書架擺滿了各種線裝和洋裝書籍。書房則靜悄悄的,只有一縷光線照在書桌上。書桌上面攤開了幾本翻開來的書和幾張字紙,筆筒裏還插着一把雞毛掃帚,跟林語堂在陽明山的房子格調一樣。

我在花園想起胡適到台定居時,曾指出這所房子的三個缺陷:書房是格子窗,像監獄一樣;潮濕,東西易發霉;昏暗,白天也要開燈。家的大小,裝潢簡樸與否,是不是相對舒適,卻改變不了一個人的卓見。胡適一生鼓勵人追求獨立思考,用諸於政治及求學方面,建設新社會。我想最重要的,還是他說「有一分證據,說一分話」的為人觀點。

毛羨寧


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Europe is on its own

South China Morning Post
Insight
2012-07-12

Steve Tsang says for all the talk of global integration, neither the Americans nor the Chinese have the incentives to dive in and rescue the debt-crippled euro zone. Instead, Europe will have to rely on itself

The euro zone crisis rumbles on. Just when European policymakers reach a semblance of consensus, further twists emerge, rendering each action one step behind the rapidly unfolding events.

At a recent meeting of the Integrating Global Society Priority Group at the University of Nottingham, several academics warned that European policymakers are unlikely to resolve the crisis without the assistance of non- European states. What role then, if any, will the major powers outside of Europe be prepared to play?

For all the talk of globalisation and integration, awareness of the global reach of a full-blown euro crisis is not sufficient to galvanise a global effort to pre-empt it. The political barriers to American or Chinese intervention are high and few other countries have the capacity to make a significant contribution.

China has become a disenchanted supporter of the European Union. Its criticism of the EU focuses on the region’s perceived pursuit of policies designed to secure short-term gain at the expense of long-term security.

It does not accept that developing countries should subsidise wealthy Europeans for their extravagant and irresponsible lifestyles. China sees the EU’s commitment to unsustainable entitlement programmes, namely generous pension schemes and unemployment benefits, as prime examples of this, blaming them for the erosion of the region’s economic efficiency and competitiveness.

And the Chinese government is yet to be truly persuaded that common global interests are sufficient for China to risk its hard-earned reserves to bail out the euro zone.

Academics at the priority group’s meeting agreed that China has a considerable stake in the resolution of the current crisis – the European Union is its biggest trading partner – but political realities present considerable obstacles to Chinese action.

There is a sense that China lacks political incentives to act. Without the existence of a single European authority, any financial intervention would fail to meet with the political recognition China craves. If China is to invest in distressed European assets, it must receive something in return that can be cashed in at a later date, which is in alignment with its long-term strategic objectives.

This approach was on display at the recent G20 summit in Mexico where China offered US$43billion to the International Monetary Fund’s crisis-fighting reserves. Here, China allied itself with the emerging world as part of a wider bid to secure greater voting rights within the IMF, further evidence that when China offers financial assistance, it expects its pound of flesh.

Political considerations aside, China faces considerable economic challenges of its own. Recent economic data points to growth declining towards 7per cent and Premier Wen Jiabao has spoken of the large “downward pressure” on the national economy. The ability of China to deploy reserves to stabilise the European economy is limited. Savings generated by large trade surpluses have already been invested and are held in a form that cannot be realised for swift deployment.

Perhaps the biggest role China can play in resolving Europe’s economic woes is to address trade imbalances through monetary policy, rather than through the provision of direct financial assistance.

At the roundtable at Nottingham University, consideration was given to the role that Brazil, as representative for a number of developing countries, might play in any co-ordinated action. The overwhelming conclusion was that Brazilian support would be limited. Its funding capacity is small, economic growth has slowed to 4per cent and intermediation costs in Brazil are high, making the country an unlikely source of cheap credit.

Moreover, Brazil’s aims when setting aside funding for international financial stability are, similar to China, primarily political. Funds are channelled entirely through the IMF as part of its efforts to secure greater voting rights.

So what of the world’s only superpower? Again, any role the United States might play will come with a high degree of conditionality. The dynamic between the US and the euro zone is on a parallel with the relationship between Germany and Greece: no money can be expected by the latter without agreement on conditions set by the former.

A significant political intervention by the United States is unforeseeable in the short term. It will only come about should the euro crisis generate a degree of contagion that imperils the US financial system and, at present, US officials believe the EU has sufficient policy tools at its disposal. The US is also in the midst of an election cycle, weakening the likelihood of financial support for European governments or institutions.

And while the effect of an acute financial crisis in the EU could affect Wall Street, it would have a more limited effect on the US “real economy”. The EU as a whole is America’s largest trading partner, but this statistic misrepresents the nature of US economic links. Individually, America’s major trading partners are Canada, China, Mexico and Japan, with Germany fifth.

This dynamic reduces the likelihood of the US judging that the economic benefits of providing funds to the EU outweigh the negative political consequences of authorising such a move.

US action, or lack of it, is intertwined with that of China. If China proves resistant to providing financial assistance, the US will argue that the responsibility should not fall on its shoulders alone.

There is also concern in Washington that if the US offers its public support for a particular course of action, it could make EU member states less willing to adopt a plan deemed to have been “made in America”, and, in turn, China would be less willing to support it.

Global economic interdependency may be at its height but, if Europe is to pull through this crisis it has little option but to find the strength within.

Steve Tsang is professor of Contemporary Chinese Studies and director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham