Backtalk! The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election

Backtalk! The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election
January 28, 2002

From Phil, regarding The Strait Scoop
January 28, 2002

Phil: I happened to read one of [Bevin Chu’s]… articles, “The Big Lie Of Taiwan’s Elections,” at the Pravda website. It was such a good article that I went into the Antiwar.com site to find out more about you. I was very pleased to learn that you had written many previous articles! Wow, I must say every one of them are excellent! I’m very impressed and sent the link to my friends recommending that they must check it out.

Bevin Chu: Thank you very much. Please do recommend the Strait Scoop to your friends. Those of us who oppose military confrontation and advocate peaceful commerce between the US and China need to get the word out. We cannot allow the warmongers to monopolize the public debate.

Phil: Yes the Singapore Straits Times is a very fine newspaper indeed. I read it every day and their coverage of China/Taiwan affairs are right on the mark. The irony is that a tiny nation-state that is constantly lambasted by the western nations for not having a free press can report more accurately about China/Taiwan than CNN, NY Times, Newsweek and other western media organizations. There is probably no statesman that knows China and Taiwan more than Lee Kuan Yew. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that he is a precious asset to all ethnic Chinese people in the world.

Bevin Chu: Not only ethnic Chinese, but to non-Chinese as well, as LKY’s political wisdom is a contribution to the world at large, including Europe and North America, not merely Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

Phil: Your writings about the Taiwan independence gang is most eye-opening. I’m so surprised that a Chinese person originating from Taiwan would actually speak up for mainland China in so many issues.

Bevin Chu: Strictly speaking, I’m not “speaking up for mainland China” per se. I’m helping Americans to understand that being from Taiwan does not mean one automatically favors Taiwan independence, that only a small minority of extremists on Taiwan actually insists on Taiwan independence. The vast majority are either pro-reunification or else indifferent. Not quite the same thing as “speaking up for mainland China.” That is only part of the larger picture.

Phil: You also recognize this ridiculous demonizing China campaign launched by the anti-China gang in the USA is nothing more than an attempt to contain China and keep her down. My thoughts on those issues are almost identical to yours so it was encouraging to read your excellently articulated arguments.

Bevin Chu: The China bashers don’t realize that not only is it not necessary for China to lose for America to win, it may well be necessary for China to win for America to win. Chinese markets may well be essential to America’s continued future prosperity.

Phil: I’ve also noticed the dates of your articles, they appear approximately once every 4 months. So that means I will have to wait 4 months for your next installment? That’s a long wait!

Bevin Chu: As I mentioned in “Taiwan Independence, RIP” I have come to realize that that due to global economic factors Taiwan independence is basically kaput. I now feel considerably less pressured to combat it now that I am quite confident it will not succeed. Hence my reduced output. However I may dash off shorter articles more frequently in the near future.

From Anonymous, regarding “pro reunification”
January 24, 2002

Your point is well taken that the western press has blindly followed an erroneous conclusion. If a sitting president’s party in any western democracy got only 33.4% of the vote, it would be a major defeat. The DPP and its TSU ally will hold 44.4 percent of the seats in the new legislature, having gained only 41.2 percent of the vote. Still a major defeat any way you look at it. [To allege] That the election was a victory for the DPP is absurd, and almost gives the appearance of another agenda (I dare not use the word “conspiracy”) among the western press.

Yes, the Taipei Times has become a propaganda sheet for the Taiwan independence crowd. The Taipei Times even cast Mayor Ma’s “crackdown” (so to speak) on prostitution in terms of unification-independence. The Taiwan News is moving in that same direction very quickly. (James Wei would be spinning in his grave, if he knew the current content of the newspaper he founded.) The China Post on the other hand is much more balanced in its content, so there still is a rational source of news in English in Taipei.

However, Bevin, you must realize that most people are neither for independence (knowing it would be short lived) nor unification. They want things to stay the way they are, hoping that, in time, maybe 50 years, China will become more democratic and free from corruption. I believe that implying the pan-blue group is “pro-unification” is an incorrect characterization. Most of these people are pro-status quo.

Bevin Chu replies:

Actually, I have corresponded with this writer before, who needs to remain anonymous for political reasons. He would be subject to Taiwan independence fundamentalist “Green Terror” treatment if he were found out. He is very well informed about Taiwan.

In fact we do not disagree about the issue of “pro-reunification.” The issue is purely semantic. I have been using the term “pro-reunification” the way almost everyone else on Taiwan uses it, to mean “in favor of eventual reunification” and “to be committed to reunification as the final goal.” I have been using the term “pro-independence” the way almost everyone else on Taiwan uses it as well, to mean “in favor of eventual independence” and “to be committed to independence as the final goal.”

In this straightforward, non-misleading, “non-Clintonian” sense, the KMT under Lien Chan, the PFP and NP are clearly and unequivocally “pro-reunification.” They are committed to reunification as the ultimate goal, and “pro-status quo” merely as an interim condition.

Taiwan independence spinmeisters such as DPP legislator Shen Fu-hsiung, play an underhanded, deceptive numbers game. They inflate their own numbers by lumping those who favor eventual reunification together with those who favor eventual independence. They do this by characterizing “pro interim status quo” members of the public as “opposed to reunification,” when in fact they are merely opposed to immediate reunification. They do this by characterizing “pro interim status quo” members of the public as “favoring de facto independence,” when in fact they favor eventual de jure reunification.

I refuse to play such dishonest games, and don’t need to, because truth favors the reunificationists. I leave shameless, barefaced, lying through one’s teeth to the Taipei Times.

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The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election, as published by Pravda

The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election, as published by Pravda
Bevin Chu
January 25, 2002

Bevin Chu: The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election
A Lie Heard Halfway around the World
25.01.2002
Source: URL: http://english.pravda.ru/russia/25758-0

“A lie gets halfway around the world before truth can even get its boots on.” ~ Ken Duberstein, veteran Washington public relations expert and former Reagan Chief of Staff

The tragic aftermath of our US-led war against the Serbian people revealed one thing – our intrepid Fourth Estate got the story of Kosovo exactly backwards. Now the establishment media has reprised its sorry performance in the Balkans. It has gotten Taiwan’s 2001 legislative, county and municipal elections exactly backwards as well. You would never know it from the deluge of “expert commentary” by Taiwan independence fellow travelers, but Taiwan’s election does not represent a “mandate for Taiwan independence.” It merely confirms what genuine China experts have known all along – enthusiasm for political independence on the island continues to wane with each passing year.

THE BIG LIE

The Taipei Times [“Has Beijing Got the Message Yet?,” December 4] has alleged that the 88 seats won by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), plus the 13 seats won by Lee Teng-hui’s Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), out of a total of 225 in the Republic of China legislature, amount to a clear and unequivocal mandate for Taiwan independence.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Taipei Times is the English language mouthpiece for the Taiwan independence movement. What the Taipei Times offers in abundance is “dezinformatsiya,” the old KGB’s term for deliberate and systematic deception as an instrument of official policy.

Needless to say, the Taipei Times’ mendacious post-election spin control is being parroted by all the usual suspects, notably “Yellow Peril” China-baiter William Kristol [“Embrace Taiwan,” Washington Post, December 4]. What a surprise.

For a good laugh, courtesy the Taiwan independence amen corner, see “Has China Seen the Light?” [the Christian Science Monitor, December 6]. This slapdash bit of “expert commentary” amounts to an open admission of complete and utter ignorance concerning its purported subject matter.

THE HARD FACTS

Those who read Chinese and want to know the true significance of Taiwan’s 2001 legislative, county and municipal elections owe it to themselves to read an eye-opening article entitled “Who Won?,” by Sisy Chen, former Public Relations Chief for the DPP, now one of the Taiwan independence movement’s most feared critics. Chen is especially formidable in bare knuckles television debates with her former comrades, because, as the DPP’s former “Minister of Propaganda,” she “knows where the bodies are buried.”

Those who can’t read Chinese, relax. Chen’s insights have been incorporated into this article.

Sisy Chen, along with former DPP party chairmen and “White Terror” political prisoners Shih Ming-teh and Hsu Hsing-liang were the DPP’s political superstars. Shih, who was imprisoned for three decades, is Taiwan’s Nelson Mandela. Because they were far brighter than the typical Taiwan independence True Believer, all three saw the light and repudiated not only the DPP, but Taiwan independence per se.

They repudiated the the Democratic Progressive Party because it had betrayed its founding ideals: democracy and progressive government. They repudiated Taiwan independence because they realized, however belatedly, that Taiwan independence was not in the best interest of ordinary men and women on Taiwan. Together with former New Party Chairman Jaw Shau-kang, former New Party legislator Chu Hui-liang, they have founded a forward-looking pro-reunification thinktank known as “Shan Meng” or “Mountain Alliance.”

Sisy Chen has mentioned on her nightly TV program that she is one fourth Japanese. Legendary Ming dynasty Chinese hero Cheng Cheng-kung, aka “Koxinga,” was half Japanese. Let no one accuse this columnist of anti-Japanese bigotry. This columnist’s outrage has always been animated by moral/ethical considerations, never ethnicity, and has never been directed at fellow human beings of Japanese origin, only at Japanese militarists and colonialists who victimized China.

As Chen notes, the actual vote totals reveal something seriously amiss with Taiwan independence spin control. For starters, votes cast in favor of pro-reunification Pan Blue candidates clearly outnumber votes cast in favor of pro-independence Pan Green candidates.

Voter Turnout, Legislative Elections – 66%

Pan Blue – 50% KMT – 29% PFP – 19% NP – 3%

Pan Green – 41% DPP – 33% TSU – 8%

I have purposely rounded the percentages off to the nearest whole number, making them easy to remember and track, even though doing so introduces a slight rounding-off error.

As you can see, the DPP performed worse this year than it did two years ago. DPP legislative candidates received 33% of the vote, 6% fewer than DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian received during the March 2000 presidential election, when he squeaked into the president’s office with an underwhelming 39% plurality.

At the grassroots county and municipal levels Taiwan independence suffered an even worse setback. Sure, the Pan Green parties captured 45% of the county and municipal level vote, up from 43% in 1997. But the Pan Blue parties captured 47% of the county and municipal level vote, up from 42% in 1997! Northern and central Taiwan are now in Pan Blue hands. Only southern Taiwan remains in Pan Green hands.

THE REAL TRUTH

So how did the Pan Green parties wind up with so many seats in the ROC legislature? Specifically, how the hell did the DPP, which received a mere 33% of the total vote, wind up with 39% of the 225 seats in the legislature? Thirty-three percent of 225 equals 74, right? How did the DPP wind up with 88 seats, 14 more than their vote totals warranted?

Simple. Taiwan boasts, if that is the right word, a peculiar voting system, assumed to be the only one of its kind in the world. In the US two or three candidates compete for a single seat in an electoral district. On Taiwan dozens of candidates compete for a half dozen or so seats in an electoral district. On Taiwan elections resemble an “every man for himself, the devil take the hindmost,” free-for-all. This system is not without merit, but also has drawbacks.

On the one hand it permits constituencies which might be totally shut out to achieve at least minimal representation. On the other hand it pits candidates from the same party and candidates from different parties but similar political platforms against one another. These candidates can wind up bumping each other off, leaving their constituents without representation. A candidate with a smaller constituency and dramatically different political agenda can then waltz into office over his opponents’ corpses. A larger constituency can go unrepresented, even as a smaller constituency winds up overrepresented.

This is exactly what happened on December 1, 2001.

The pro-reunification Pan Blue parties, each struggling to maintain or expand their existing power base, nominated far too many candidates. The pro-independence Pan Green parties, on the other hand, nominated an optimum number of candidates and successfully apportioned their votes among them. This apportioning of votes is referred to as “pei piao.”

The result was Pan Blue candidates averaged down each others’ vote totals. KMT, PFP and NP candidates got elbowed aside by DPP and TSU candidates in district after district, even though Pan Blue votes island wide outnumbered Pan Green votes. The sole exception was the PFP, which grew from 19 seats to 46 seats, primarily at the expense of the NP.

The squeaky-clean, ethical-to-a-fault New Party was virtually wiped out, a grotesquely undeserved victim of a combined “xi gua xiao ying” (“Watermelon Effect”) and “qi bao xiao ying” (“Dump/Save Effect.) Voters were shocked and dismayed when NP and KMT lawmakers rated among the top five in the ROC legislature lost their bids for re-election. Among them were Lai Shi-bao (NP), Hsieh Chi-tah (NP), and Ting Shou-chung (KMT).

Too many Pan Blue candidates plus faulty Pan Blue vote apportioning added up to Pan Blue disaster. The media even coined a name for the phenomenon – the “Lai Shi-bao Effect,” after the universally admired New Party legislator. By then of course it was too late. Farsighted and courageous NP lawmakers Fung Hu-hsiang and Fu Kuen-chen also fell victim. Overall the Pan Blue “alliance,” and I use the term loosely, decimated its own ranks with “friendly fire.”

WHY DIDN’T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING?

Somebody did. The New Party tried vainly to drag their larger Pan Blue allies to the negotiating table. New Party elder Wang Chien-hsuan vigorously championed a coordinated Pan Blue candidate nomination protocol to ensure that pro-reunification votes were not split among two, three or even more Pan Blue candidates. New Party elder Yu Mu-ming went even further, and boldly organized and led a Pan Blue march calling for “San he yi, zhu zheng dang,” or, “Three into One, Form One Party.”

Little came of it, except the potential imminent demise of the idealistic New Party. Neither ambitious PFP party chairman James Soong nor selfish KMT local party bosses were willing to negotiate in good faith. New Party willingness to compromise for the sake of a Pan Blue victory was misperceived as lack of political will. Many Pan Blue voters voted PFP. Others stayed home.

The outcome, widely predicted by everyone from political reporters to taxi drivers, was referred to as “Yu ong de li,” meaning “The fisherman benefits.” “Yu ong de li” refers to the Chinese fable about a stork and a clam. Each has the other in a death grip. Neither is willing or able to let go. A fisherman scoops them both up, the serendipitous beneficiary of their lose/lose struggle.

Taiwan’s election was no “mandate for Taiwan independence,” it was merely one more dismal repeat of “Yu ong de li.” It was the 1994 Taipei mayoral election, which saddled Taipei with A-Bian for four dreary years. It was the 1996 presidential election, which saddled the ROC with “Mr. Democracy” Lee Teng-hui for four more years. It was deja vu all over again.

The central challenge for the Pan Blue leadership is to reorganize the KMT, PFP and what’s left of the NP into a unified political force, either a trans-party alliance, or a single political entity. If they can pull this off, key political offices such the presidency or the Mayorship of Taipei, a stepping stone to the presidency, will never again be occupied by Japanophile quislings plotting treason against the Constitution of the Republic of China. If Pan Blue leaders can’t find some way to work together, Taiwan independence opportunists will continue to exploit Pan Blue disunity.

ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS: THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE

Now you know the real story. The December 1, 2001 election was not a “victory for Taiwan independence.” The vast majority of Chinese on Taiwan – Aborigine, Minan, Hakka, “mainlander” – have never opposed reunification, providing the mainland was no longer communist, no longer totalitarian. They never rejected China, they never considered themselves anything other than Chinese, they merely rejected communism and totalitarianism.

None of what Sisy Chen and I have written is news to Chinese people on Taiwan. You will never read about it, however, in the Taipei Times, which is not a newspaper, but a propaganda organ. Its raison d’etre is not to report the news, but to peddle a political agenda – Taiwan independence. Its primary weapon is Americans’ lack of facility with the Chinese language, who by default rely on the Taipei Times because it is written in English.

Support for cross-Straits reunification has been climbing steadily since Chen Shui-bian was elected two years ago, and is currently at unprecedented highs. Independent polls conducted periodically since March 2000 reveal, to the dismay of Taiwan’s quisling elite, that the Chinese people on Taiwan now want reunification, sooner rather than later.

Poll Results in Favor of “One Country, Two Systems,” in Chronological Order

United Daily News – 33% China Times – 29% TVBS Cable Channel – 31% Fung Hu-hsiang (New Party) commissioned poll – 48% CTN, China Television Network – 52%

The trend is hard to miss, wouldn’t you say?

Not long ago Chen Shui-bian’s own Mainland Affairs Council polled the Taiwan public regarding “One Country, Two Systems.” To ensure that they got the low numbers they desperately wanted for propaganda purposes, the MAC’s “pollsters” prefaced their questionnaire with a long-winded description of what constituted “One Country, Two Systems.” The only problem was the system the MAC was describing was not “One Country, Two Systems,” but “One Country, One System.” Their deception backfired when 16% of the Taiwan public in effect endorsed “One Country, One System.” Not exactly the result they were hoping for. The moral of this fable? Don’t ask questions unless you’re willing to hear the answers.

I haven’t even mentioned the estimated one million “Tai Shang” or “Taiwan merchants” and their families currently living on the mainland on an essentially permanent basis. They voted too – with their feet. That’s close to 5% of Taiwan’s entire population. Twenty years from they’ll no longer be “Taiwan Chinese,” they’ll be “mainland Chinese,” and they’ll have been joined by millions more. Taiwan has no provision for absentee voting. Imagine how they would vote if it did?

TAIWAN’S QUISLING ELITE

The only segment of Taiwan society which categorically rejects reunification with the mainland is an invisible but influential Japanophile elite, comprised of ethnic Japanese members of Taiwan’s colonial era ruling class and their ethnic Chinese collaborators. This seedy “elite” is enamored of everything Japanese and contemptuous of anything Chinese. It never reconciled itself to Taiwan’s restoration to China, never came to terms with Japan’s surrender in 1945, and is obsessed with prying Taiwan away from China for a second time and reannexing it to Japan.

This Quisling elite would have Americans believe that the majority of Chinese on Taiwan yearn for a “Republic of Taiwan” separate from and hostile to the Chinese mainland. Sad to say, they have been largely successful. Their Big Lie has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by much of the American public. Just remember, the next time you come across Taipei Times “dezinformatsiya” posted on the internet, you are reading lies which have gotten halfway around the world before truth could even get its boots on.

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME, AND GONE

Remember how incredulous, how disoriented we were in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down? Who could have imagined that the “Evil Empire” had been on the verge of imploding and the Cold War approaching its oddly anticlimactic conclusion?

Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu may be greeted by cheering self-styled “Taiwanese, not Chinese” waving green and white “Republic of Taiwan” flags in Texas and New York. But back on Taiwan, political independence is an idea whose time has come, and gone.

In “Taiwan Independence, RIP” I wrote,

“A-Bian has arrived at a fork in the road. Both roads lead to One China. Take one and arrive before dusk, warm, dry and refreshed. Take the other and arrive at the same destination after midnight, cold, wet and exhausted. The route is optional; the destination is not.”

Two years into his first and hopefully only term, A-Bian has chosen to take the long way around. Too bad. As I said, “The route is optional; the destination is not.” China will be reunified. Maybe sooner than anyone in 2002 can imagine.

Bevin Chu Antiwar.com

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The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election

The Big Lie of Taiwan’s Election
A Lie heard halfway around the World
Bevin Chu
January 18, 2002

“A lie gets halfway around the world before truth can even get its boots on.”
— Ken Duberstein, veteran Washington public relations expert and former Reagan Chief of Staff, quoting Sir Winston Churchill

Executive Summary: The tragic aftermath of our US led war against the Serbian people revealed one thing — our intrepid Fourth Estate got the story of Kosovo exactly backwards. Now the establishment media has reprised its sorry performance in the Balkans. It has gotten Taiwan’s 2001 legislative, county and municipal elections exactly backwards as well. You would never know it from the deluge of “expert commentary” by Taiwan independence fellow travellers, but Taiwan’s election does not represent a “mandate for Taiwan independence.” It merely confirms what genuine China experts have known all along — enthusiasm for political independence on the island continues to wane with each passing year.

The Big Lie

“There is no truth in Pravda (“The Truth”), there is no news in Isvestia (“The News”).
— Cold War era Russian joke

The Taipei Times has alleged that the 88 seats won by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), plus the 13 seats won by Lee Teng-hui’s Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), out of a total of 225 in the Republic of China legislature, amount to a clear and unequivocal mandate for Taiwan independence.

See:
Editorial: Has Beijing got the message yet?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Taipei Times is the English language mouthpiece for the Taiwan independence movement. It is to the DPP and TSU what Pravda and Isvestia were to the Russian Communist Party. Just as there was no news in Isvestia, and no truth in Pravda, so there is little news and less truth in the Taipei Times. What the Taipei Times offers in abundance, is “dezinformatsiya,” the KGB’s term for deliberate and systematic deception as an instrument of official policy. [One irony of our post Cold War world is that today’s Pravda and Isvestia contain more truth and more news than the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.] Needless to say, the Taipei Times’ mendacious post-election spin control is being parroted by all the usual suspects, notably “Yellow Peril” China baiter William Kristol. What a surprise.

See:
Embrace Taiwan, by William Kristol

For a good laugh, courtesy the Taiwan independence amen corner

See:
Has China Seen the Light?

This slapdash bit of “expert commentary” amounts to an open admission of complete and utter ignorance concerning its purported subject matter.

The Hard Facts

Those who read Chinese and want to know the true significance of Taiwan’s 2001 legislative, county and municipal elections owe it to themselves to read an eye-opening article entitled “Who Won?,” by Sisy Chen, former Public Relations Chief for the DPP, now one of the Taiwan independence movement’s most feared critics. Chen is especially formidable in bare knuckles television debates with her former comrades, because as the DPP’s former “Minister of Propaganda,” she “knows where the bodies are buried.”

Those who can’t read Chinese, relax. Chen’s insights have been incorporated into this article.

Sisy Chen, along with former DPP party chairmen and “White Terror” political prisoners Shih Ming-teh and Hsu Hsing-liang were the DPP’s political superstars. Shih, who was imprisoned for three decades, is Taiwan’s Nelson Mandela. Because they were far brighter than the typical Taiwan independence True Believer, all three saw the light and repudiated not only the DPP, but Taiwan independence per se. They repudiated the the Democratic Progressive Party because it had betrayed its founding ideals: democracy and progressive government. They repudiated Taiwan independence because they realized, however belatedly, that Taiwan independence was not in the best interest of ordinary men and women on Taiwan. Together with former New Party Chairman Jaw Shau-kang, former New Party legislator Chu Hui-liang, they have founded a forward looking pro reunification thinktank known as “Shan Meng” or “Mountain Alliance.”

Sisy Chen has mentioned on her nightly TV program that she is one fourth Japanese. Legendary Ming dynasty Chinese hero Cheng Cheng-kung, aka “Koxinga,” was half Japanese. Let no one accuse this columnist of anti-Japanese bigotry. This columnist’s outrage has always been animated by moral/ethical considerations, never ethnicity, and has never been directed at fellow human beings of Japanese origin, only at Japanese militarists and colonialists who victimized China.

As Chen notes, the actual vote totals reveal something seriously amiss with Taiwan independence spin control. For starters, votes cast in favor of pro reunification Pan Blue candidates clearly outnumber votes cast in favor of pro independence Pan Green candidates.

Voter Turnout, Legislative Elections — 66%

Pan Blue — 50%
KMT — 29%
PFP — 19%
NP — 3%

Pan Green — 41%
DPP — 33%
TSU — 8%

I have purposely rounded the percentages off to the nearest whole number, making them easy to remember and track, even though it introduces a slight rounding off error.

As you can see, the DPP performed worse this year than it did two years ago. DPP legislative candidates received 33% of the vote, 6% fewer than DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian received during the March 2000 presidential election, when he squeaked into the president’s office with an underwhelming 39% plurality.

At the grassroots county and municipal levels Taiwan independence suffered an even worse setback. Sure, the Pan Green parties captured 45% of the county and municipal level vote, up from 43% in 1997. But the Pan Blue parties captured 47% of the county and municipal level vote, up from 42% in 1997! Northern and central Taiwan are now in Pan Blue hands. Only southern Taiwan remains in Pan Green hands.

The Real Truth

So how did the Pan Green parties wind up with so many seats in the ROC legislature? Specifically, how the hell did the DPP, which received a mere 33% of the total vote, wind up with 39% of the 225 seats in the legislature? Thirty-three percent of 225 equals 74, right? How did the DPP wind up with 87 seats, 13 more than their vote totals warranted?

Simple. Taiwan boasts, if that is the right word, a peculiar voting system, assumed to be the only one of its kind in the world. In the US two or three candidates compete for a single seat in an electoral district. On Taiwan dozens of candidates compete for a half dozen or so seats in an electoral district. On Taiwan elections resemble an “every man for himself, the devil take the hindmost,” free-for-all. This system is not without merit, but also has drawbacks.

On the one hand it permits constituencies which might be totally shut out to achieve at least minimal representation. On the other hand it pits candidates from the same party and candidates from different parties but similar political platforms against one another. These candidates can wind up bumping each other off, leaving their constituents without representation. A candidate with a smaller constituency and dramatically different political agenda can then waltz into office over his opponents’ corpses. A larger constituency can go unrepresented, even as a smaller constituency winds up overrepresented.

This is exactly what happened on December 1, 2001.

The pro reunification Pan Blue parties, each struggling to maintain or expand their existing power base, each nominated far too many candidates. The pro independence Pan Green parties on the other hand, nominated an optimum number of candidates and successfully apportioned their votes among them. This apportioning of votes is referred to as “pei piao.”

The result was Pan Blue candidates averaged down each others’ vote totals. KMT, PFP and NP candidates got elbowed aside by DPP and TSU candidates in district after district, even though Pan Blue votes island wide outnumbered Pan Green votes. The sole exception was the PFP, which grew from 19 seats to 46 seats, primarily at the expense of the NP.

The squeaky clean, ethical to a fault New Party was virtually wiped out, a grotesquely undeserved victim of a combined “xi gua xiao ying” (“Watermelon Effect”) and “qi bao xiao ying” (“Dump/Save Effect.) Voters were shocked and dismayed when NP and KMT lawmakers rated among the top five in the ROC legislature lost their bids for re-election. Among them, Lai Shi-bao (NP), Hsieh Chi-tah (NP), and Ting Shou-chung (KMT).

Too many Pan Blue candidates plus faulty Pan Blue vote apportioning added up to Pan Blue disaster. The media even coined a name for the phenomenon — the “Lai Shi-bao Effect,” after the universally admired New Party legislator. By then of course it was too late. Farsighted and courageous NP lawmakers Fung Hu-hsiang and Fu Kuen-chen also fell victim. Overall the Pan Blue “alliance,” and I use the term loosely, decimated its own ranks with “friendly fire.”

Why Didn’t Somebody Do Something?

Somebody did. The New Party tried vainly to drag their larger Pan Blue allies to the negotiating table. New Party elder Wang Chien-hsuan vigorously championed a coordinated Pan Blue candidate nomination protocol to ensure that pro reunification votes were not split among two, three or even more Pan Blue candidates. New Party elder Yu Mu-ming went even further, and boldly organized and led a Pan Blue march calling for “San he yi, zhu zheng dang” or “Three into One, Form One Party.”

Little came of it, except the potential imminent demise of the idealistic New Party. Neither ambitious PFP party chairman James Soong nor selfish KMT local party bosses were willing to negotiate in good faith. New Party willingness to compromise for the sake of a Pan Blue victory was misperceived as a lack of political will. Many Pan Blue voters voted PFP. Others stayed home.

The outcome, widely predicted by everyone from political reporters to taxi drivers, was referred to as “Yu ong de li,” meaning “The fisherman benefits.” “Yu ong de li” refers to the Chinese fable about a stork and a clam. Each has the other in a death grip. Neither is willing or able to let go. A fisherman scoops them both up, the serendipitous beneficiary of their lose/lose struggle.

Taiwan’s election was no “mandate for Taiwan independence,” it was merely one more dismal repeat of “Yu ong de li.” It was the 1994 Taipei mayoral election, which saddled Taipei with A-Bian for four dreary years. It was the 1996 presidential election, which saddled the ROC with “Mr. Democracy” Lee Teng-hui for four more years. It was deja vu all over again.

The central challenge for the Pan Blue leadership is to reorganize the KMT, PFP and what’s left of the NP into a unified political force, either a trans-party alliance, or a single political entity. If they can pull this off, key political offices such the presidency or the Mayorship of Taipei, a stepping stone to the presidency, will never again be occupied by Japanophile Quislings plotting treason against the Constitution of the Republic of China. If Pan Blue leaders can’t find some way to work together, Taiwan independence opportunists will continue to exploit Pan Blue disunity.

One Country, Two Systems: The Will of the People

Now you know the real story. The December 1, 2001 election was not a “victory for Taiwan independence.” The vast majority of Chinese on Taiwan — Aborigine, Minan, Hakka, “mainlander” — have never opposed reunification, providing the mainland was no longer communist, no longer totalitarian. They never rejected China, they never considered themselves anything other than Chinese, they merely rejected communism and totalitarianism.

None of what Sisy Chen and I have written is news to Chinese people on Taiwan. You will never read about it however in the Taipei Times, which is not a newspaper, but a propaganda organ. Its raison d’etre is not to report the news, but to peddle a political agenda — Taiwan independence. Its primary weapon is Americans’ lack of facility with the Chinese language, who by default rely on the Taipei Times because it is written in English.

Support for cross Straits reunification has been climbing steadily since Chen Shui-bian was elected two years ago, and is currently at unprecedented highs. Independent polls conducted periodically since March 2000 reveal, to the dismay of Taiwan’s Quisling elite, that the Chinese people on Taiwan now want reunification, sooner rather than later.

Poll Results in Favor of “One Country, Two Systems,” in Chronological Order

United Daily News — 33%
China Times — 29%
TVBS Cable Channel — 31%
Fung Hu-hsiang (New Party) commissioned poll — 48%
CTN, China Television Network — 52%

The trend is hard to miss, wouldn’t you say?

Not long ago Chen Shui-bian’s own Mainland Affairs Council polled the Taiwan public regarding “One Country, Two Systems.” To ensure that they got the low numbers they desperately wanted for propaganda purposes, the MAC’s “pollsters” prefaced their questionnaire with a long-winded description of what constituted “One Country, Two Systems.” The only problem was the system the MAC was describing was not “One Country, Two Systems,” but “One Country, One System.” Their deception backfired when 16% of the Taiwan public in effect endorsed “One Country, One System.” Not exactly the result they were hoping for. The moral of this fable? Don’t ask questions unless you’re willing to hear the answers.

I haven’t even mentioned the estimated one million “Tai Shang” or “Taiwan merchants” and their families currently living on the mainland on an essentially permanent basis. They voted too — with their feet. That’s close to 5% of Taiwan’s entire population. Twenty years from they’ll no longer be “Taiwan Chinese,” they’ll be “mainland Chinese,” and they’ll have been joined by millions more. Taiwan has no provision for absentee voting. Imagine how they would vote if it did?

Taiwan’s Quisling Elite

The only segment of Taiwan society which categorically rejects reunification with the mainland is an invisible but influential Japanophile elite, comprised of ethnic Japanese members of Taiwan’s colonial era ruling class and their ethnic Chinese collaborators. This seedy “elite” is enamored of everything Japanese and contemptuous of anything Chinese. It never reconciled itself to Taiwan’s restoration to China, never came to terms with Japan’s surrender in 1945, and is obssessed with prying Taiwan away from China for a second time and reannexing it to Japan.

This Quisling elite would have Americans believe that the majority of Chinese on Taiwan yearn for a “Republic of Taiwan” separate from and hostile to the Chinese mainland. Sad to say, they have been largely successful. Their Big Lie has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by much of the American public. Just remember, the next time you come across Taipei Times “dezinformatsiya” posted on the internet, you are reading lies which have gotten halfway around the world before truth could even get its boots on.

An Idea whose Time has Come, and Gone

Remember how incredulous, how disoriented we were in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down? Who could have imagined that the “Evil Empire” had been on the verge of imploding and the Cold War approaching its oddly anticlimactic conclusion?

Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu may be greeted by cheering self-styled “Taiwanese, not Chinese” waving green and white “Republic of Taiwan” flags in Texas and New York. But back on Taiwan, political independence is an idea whose time has come, and gone.

In “Taiwan Independence, R.I.P.” I wrote,

“A-Bian has arrived at a fork in the road. Both roads lead to One China. Take one and arrive before dusk, warm, dry and refreshed. Take the other and arrive at the same destination after midnight, cold, wet and exhausted. The route is optional; the destination is not.”

Two years into his first and hopefully only term, A-Bian has chosen to take the long way around. Too bad. As I said, “The route is optional; the destination is not.” China will be reunified. Maybe sooner than anyone in 2002 can imagine.

The Modern World: A Joint Creation of China and The West

The Modern World: A Joint Creation of China and The West
Proceedings of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Science
Professor Robert Temple
2002


Professor Robert Temple, Archaeologist and Historian

The Home of Robert Temple

People often speak of the modern world in which we live, and presume that it is a creation of the Western world. But this is not correct. More than half of the basic inventions and discoveries which led to the creation of this modern world are Chinese, and are not Western at all. Indeed, China has produced more fundamental inventions and discoveries than the rest of the world put together. Because so few people realize this, the view of China’s place in the modern world is wrongly conceived. Most people in both East and West believe that China is emerging into the modern world. But China is not emerging into anything, it is re-emerging into something which it helped to create in the first place. Nor is China a developing country: it is a re-developing country. For two thousand years, China was developed while most of the rest of the world was undeveloped. It was richer, it was stronger, it was bigger, it could feed itself better, it could build more things of greater magnitude, and it could explore when it wanted to: Australia was first discovered by the Chinese, who landed near the city now called Port Darwin before any Westerners found their way to that continent, for example.

The position of China in the world has been artificially suppressed for a long time. For the hundred years before 1978, this was largely because of prolonged struggles, including an invasion by Japan, and other military and civil upheavals which disrupted the normal progress of industry, technology, economics, and society. The wholly artificial process of China’s suppressed state has now come to an end. But the rest of the world is reacting with a mixture of shock and apprehension to the appearance on the international scene of a new world power which many foreigners think is sudden and perhaps undeserved. However, any foreigners who know enough facts of history will realize that China is merely returning to its natural position as a leading world power. China is sufficiently large and sufficiently important that this process cannot justifiably be criticized.

It is only natural for a re-emerging China to show signs of returning as well to technological eminence. It is not enough for China to join the WTO and to be seen to be important in international diplomacy, trade, and economics. China must also regain its status as a leading source of technological innovation. But as China seeks to pursue that goal, it is important to consider the question which has now come to be known as the Needham Puzzle. named after my old friend Joseph Needham (Li Yuese), who died a few years ago. This Puzzle is this: why did China, which invented more than half of the inventions that led to the modern world, fail itself to create that modern world on Chinese soil? Since China was technologically in advance of the rest of the world in many ways, including agriculture, for two thousand years, why did the Industrial Revolution not take place in China? Why did the Renaissance not happen in China instead of in Florence in Italy? Why did the Westerners put together the separate elements and create the modern world instead of the Chinese doing so, especially since more than fifty percent of those elements were Chinese in origin? Does this indicate that the Chinese lacked some ability to synthesize a whole from many separate elements? Was something wrong with Chinese culture or society which can explain this enigma?

There is no single answer to these questions. Instead, there are several answers. And I believe some of them have not been given before, although they may be rather large and obvious once we consider them.

I want to start by calling attention to one of the largest and most obvious of all the reasons why China failed to create the modern world on its own soil, and failed to have an Industrial Revolution. This reason is so obvious that I am amazed that no one ever seems to have mentioned it before. Perhaps I am not informed of discussions of this question which have taken place without my knowledge. But I have never come across them.

The reason to which I wish to call attention is the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, a prolonged process which culminated in the year 1644. Let me start by calling attention to one amazing fact: Between 1585 and 1645, the population of China seems to have declined by as much as forty percent because of disease, bad weather conditions, bad government, economic distress, and the collapse of law and order. This figure has been suggested by the sinologist Mark Elvin, based upon his extensive studies of the source materials. If such a population decline occurred in China today, it would be equivalent to the deaths of 520 million people, without any of those deaths being replaced by new births. The population of China would thus decline from 1.3 billion to 780 million. Since a decline in population size of these proportions occurred at the time of the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, it is clear that China was in no condition to do more than attempt to survive, and the creation of an Industrial Revolution was out of the question.

Most of you will have read the wonderful stories by Pu Songling. He was born at the end of the Ming but lived most of his life during the early Qing. If you think about it, there is a strange feature in his stories. You will recall that so many of those stories mention large empty houses all over the countryside, in which ghosts live. Have you ever thought about why Pu Songling is always mentioning empty houses with ghosts? Well, the reason is that he grew up in a China which was indeed full of empty houses in which all the inhabitants had died. This was a true description of the world he knew. During his youth, it was common for entire households of ten or twenty people to die, without a single one surviving. There were too many bodies for burial to be possible. One contemporary writer, Chen Qide, says that the worms from the bodies filled the houses and crawled out of the doors into the roads, and no one dared to go inside the many houses filled with corpses. Between 1640 and 1642, thirty percent of the population of Huzhou Prefecture, a densely populated area, died from disease within only two years.

At this time, China was swept by many plagues and epidemics, including smallpox. In 1641 there was an epidemic in Tongxiang County of Jiaxing Prefecture in Jiangnan, when between 80% and 90% of all households were infected. But disease was not the only killer. Millions of people throughout China died of starvation. Terrible weather conditions afflicted China, causing drastic crop failures and loss of income. There were alternating droughts and floods on a huge scale. In 1638, the Grand Canal dried up. In 1640, the Yellow River dried up. People were so hungry that there were instances of cannibalism, for rather than starve to death they decided to eat their neighbours or even dead members of their own families. In the north of China, the intense cold also meant that the growing season was two weeks shorter than it is today. The intense cold extended further south, and lakes of the Yangtze Basin froze over in the winter.
At the same time, terrible pestilences of locusts occurred, which destroyed what crops there were remaining in the fields.

At the time when all this was happening throughout China, what was going on in Beijing? There were no less than 40,000 officials and relatives of the Emperor in the capital who were supposed to be supported by public funds, as well as 3,000 court ladies and 20,000 eunuchs in the imperial palace. Because the money ran out, these people turned to extreme forms of corruption and embezzlement to survive. In 1643, when the Chongzhen Emperor insisted upon viewing the contents of his Treasury in the Forbidden City, the guards at first pretended they could not find the key, but as the Emperor insisted, when they finally opened the door, it was discovered that every one of the imperial treasures of the many storerooms had been stolen by the officials, and all that was left was one small red box containing a few faded receipts.

Does this sound like a government or a nation which could possibly sustain an Industrial Revolution? But there were other terrible things going on at that time as well. Law and order disintegrated entirely, and marauding gangs of bandits and even government soldiers were rampaging around the country breaking into houses and looting them whenever they pleased. No one could obtain protection. There was no justice at all. Peasants were roaming around the countryside with no homes and no food, but even in their penniless condition they were nevertheless robbed and beaten, and the women raped. Some became criminals and more became the victims of criminals. The silk industry in the Yangtze Basin had collapsed, causing enormous numbers of workers to lose their jobs, because there was a serious economic recession in Europe, and the Europeans were not buying Chinese silk anymore.

Even at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, an enormous burden had been placed upon the people by the creation of a permanent army of three million soldiers to defend China against the northern barbarians. That meant that there were three million men plus their families all of whom had to be fed by the people. At the time of the collapse of the Ming, the people were feeding the same soldiers who were robbing them, as the social situation deteriorated into total chaos and anarchy.

The final collapse of the Ming Dynasty led to the foundation of the Qing Dynasty by the invading Manchus. The Manchus reinstated order in China and brought back some prosperity. The bad weather stopped, and people recovered. The second Qing Emperor, Kangxi, was a truly remarkable man with a deep interest in science and technology who would have made an excellent Fellow of the Academy of Engineering today. But later emperors of course became corrupt, and the Qing Dynasty, like all others, subsequently degenerated.

However, although life became better under the early Qing Dynasty than it had been during the end of the Ming Dynasty, there was another problem. That problem was that the Manchus, as foreigners, wished to enslave the Han people. All Han Chinese males were required to have their heads shaved as a sign of their status as slaves. In the early Qing Dynasty, official barbers toured the countryside shaving the heads of all the Han Chinese, and these barbers were given the power of life and death. If any Han Chinese man refused to let a barber shave his head, the barber had the legal right to execute him immediately without a trial.

Chinese people do not like to be humiliated in public. What would you feel like if some foreigners came into this conference today and insisted that you all had to have your heads shaved, and if you refused you would be killed? You would not be happy. Most of you would probably rather have your heads shaved than die, but you would then feel humiliated and you would be ashamed to look in the eyes of your friends. You would all have lost face to such an extreme degree that you would feel like suicide because the shame would be so great. What would your wives say when you went home, and what would your children say? The sign of your public humiliation would be visible for everyone to see, since your shaved head could not be concealed.

I suggest that the mass humiliation of the Han Chinese people in China during the four centuries of the Qing Dynasty, and their reduction to the status of slaves, produced such demoralization that it was impossible for them to find the energy or the self-confidence to create an Industrial Revolution.

Thus, from about 1580 until modern times, China was sabotaged from within and was unable to function normally. This can be seen if we look at the list of inventions and discoveries made by the Chinese. The last significant original invention in China was published in the year 1584 by a Ming prince named Zhu Zaiyu, who was 48 years old. It was the brilliant invention of the equal temperament system for music, which was subsequently adopted all over the Western world, and most Westerners think mistakenly that it was invented by the composer Johannes Sebastian Bach one and a half centuries later, but we know that Bach got this system from China either through the writings of a Dutch mathematician named Simon Stevin or a French scientist named Marin Mersenne. It is interesting that all the classical and romantic music for which the West is famous after Bach is based upon this Chinese invention, which made possible the modulation between keys. No piece of Western music today is based upon any other system than that invented by a Ming prince, so that all Western music could be described as Ming music. This was the last significant legacy which the Ming Dynasty ever gave to the world.

But it is no coincidence that the last major Chinese invention prior to modern times was made public in 1584, at the very same time that China was descending into chaos and anarchy, with a total economic and social collapse. For it was at the same time when we could say that native Chinese culture as a viable and freely functioning national entity in China effectively ceased to exist. A true Chinese culture free of foreign domination did not then reappear again until the time of Sun Yat-Sen.

It seems to me therefore that these large and obvious explanations for the Needham Puzzle have been for too long ignored. There is no need to postulate that there may be something wrong with Chinese society and culture apart from the facts I have just mentioned. From 1584 to 1911, social conditions made it impossible for China to create any kind of modern world, even if the Chinese had wanted to do so.

The modern world was therefore created elsewhere, in Europe in fact. But although the Chinese did not do this themselves, the technological elements out of which this modern world was created were more than 50% Chinese. But the Europeans who used those elements did not realize this. They thought they had invented most of them. For instance, the Europeans were completely ignorant of the fact that paper and printing, gunpowder, and the compass were Chinese inventions. They used guns and cannons and bombs and grenades without knowing that the Chinese invented all of them. Even today people all over the world speak of the revolution in communications made possible by the invention of moveable type for printing, which they all believe was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1458. But Gutenberg did not invent moveable type. Moveable type was really invented by Bi Sheng between 1041 and 1048, four hundred years before Gutenberg. No modern world would have been possible without the widespread use of moveable type for printing in the alphabetic Western languages, but the Chinese origin of this invention is still largely unknown all over the world. And Gutenberg himself certainly did not tell people that he was not the real inventor, since he probably enjoyed being told he was a genius. But it was not Gutenberg who was the genius, it was Bi Sheng who was the genius.

Having explained why there could be no Industrial Revolution in China after 1580, we come to the question as to why there was no Industrial Revolution in China before 1580. After all, the Industrial Revolution was made possible in Europe by the preceding European Agricultural Revolution, which was brought about entirely by the importation of Chinese inventions and agricultural techniques and their dissemination by Jethro Tull and others. And this Agricultural Revolution, which everyone admits was a necessary precursor to the Industrial Revolution, had happened in China in its totality by the second century BC, in other words by the Early Han Dynasty, more than 1700 years prior to 1580. During all of those seventeen centuries, why did China not go ahead and have an Industrial Revolution? Perhaps this is the true Needham Puzzle.

Let us turn our attention first to economics for a possible or partial explanation. Today in China everyone is aware of the power of money. Money is everywhere, and the lack of it is also everywhere. Universities have to make money today to earn their operating budgets, research institutes have to make money in order to continue functioning, people are buying their own homes, which costs money. People are buying cars, which cost money. Everything is expensive. And in the cities, plenty of people are earning a lot of money, and they are all buying things in a big consumer boom, which keeps the economy of China growing. So everyone here today is very familiar with money, having it, lacking it, and its power. Therefore no one can be surprised to hear the statement, well known to everyone present, that science and technology cost money.

But what was the situation prior to 1580? Was there money available for science and technology? In those days there was no 863 Programme. Here we see part of the problem. Who was paying for the science and the technology? The country was controlled by an emperor and the officials. They were willing to pay for military inventions, when they were very much needed, so military inventions thrived from the tenth century onwards. Gunpowder had been discovered by mistake in the ninth century, by alchemists, but by 1040, gunpowder had been adopted as a true invention of war and its formula was published. From the tenth century to the sixteenth century, when there was so much fighting in China, we then saw the invention, dissemination and mass use of gunpowder, flame-throwers, flares, bombs, grenades, land mines, sea mines, rockets including multi-stage rockets, hand guns, large guns, cannons, and finally repeating guns. You can see many of these in the Weapons Museum in Xiamen and in other museums around the country. All of the weapons of war which I have just mentioned are Chinese inventions. None was a Western invention. Certainly in China military technology was massively funded by the government and was massively implemented and adopted. So as far as military technology is concerned, there was definitely an Industrial Revolution in China many centuries before the Industrial Revolution in the West, but it was restricted to the field of military technology only. And this also included techniques of mass production and factory assembly lines, which were not invented by Henry Ford in twentieth century America but were in fact invented in China for the production of weapons hundreds of years before he was born.

Why did this Military Industrial Revolution not extend into non-military areas? Because there was no money to fund it. The emperor was not interested. The officials were not interested. And there were no investment banks, no investors, no entrepreneurs, no stock markets, and no one of any social standing or prestige engaged in business activities. Merchants in China in the old days were looked down upon as socially inferior. They might be rich, but they were not scholars, and so they had no face. They could not advance in any careers other than the restricted scope of trading. They could never hope to be respected because they could not recite the Confucian texts or quote ancient poetry. They were social outcasts, lacking in dignity. Such people were not in a position to fund an Industrial Revolution. They may have had the money, but they did not have the position. And they simply did not make those kinds of investments. When merchants first created the salt industry in Sichuan, it was seized by the emperor during the Early Han Dynasty. The fermentation and brewing industries were seized from the merchants who developed them by the Emperor Wang Mang who reigned between the Early Han and the Later Han. During the Northern Wei Dynasty of the fourth and fifth centuries AD, the penalty for brewing your own beer at home was death. When distilled alcohol was invented, and the first brandy and whisky were made in China, the merchants were prohibited from selling it. Whenever merchants showed initiative in opening up a new technological area of activity which made money, the government took it away from them. There was no incentive to continue. Success was rewarded by seizure and penalty. No private person or business was allowed to make any money from technological innovation. Therefore, funding for technological innovation was not available except from the emperor or the officials. And as we all know, most of the emperors were very stupid, unimaginative men. Only once in a while did a clever emperor such as Kangxi appear, but as soon as he died, a stupid emperor would take his place. The system was rotten. And there was also massive corruption at all levels of the government for most of Chinese history.

We can see therefore that the economic climate for invention was very poor. But nevertheless, the clever Chinese went on inventing things anyway. What was lacking was an industrial deployment of all of this wonderful technology. Invention after invention appeared, in an endless series. The Chinese have a wonderful genius for invention, surpassing that of all other peoples. Perhaps this is because the Chinese are more intelligent than other peoples. Or it has been suggested that the difficult concentration in early youth needed to learn to read and write Chinese characters creates mental habits which are useful for the process of invention. I have read this in a modern book written by a Western sociologist about the Chinese. However, I do not believe it. If this were true, the Japanese should have invented lots of things as well, but apart from better swords for their Samurai warriors and the advances in metallurgy necessary to create them, I can think of not one Japanese invention before the twentieth century. Where are all the Japanese inventions of the past? There are none. And yet they concentrate hard on learning to write in characters as well. So I think that that theory is disproved. This leaves us with the theory that the Chinese are cleverer than other peoples. And personally I think this is true. But of course the Chinese are not allowed to say it, because it would be boastful. It is OK for a foreigner to say it, who is not part Chinese. So I say it.

What about psychological factors? Are there any of these involved in the Needham Puzzle? I believe that there are. Chinese people are much less inclined towards individualism than are Westerners. Chinese people care more about what other Chinese think of them. Westerners often do not care what anyone thinks of them. Anthropologists in the West often speak of the differences between shame cultures and guilt cultures. A shame culture is one where people are restrained by fears of shame. Chinese people are very restrained in this way. They dread being made to be ashamed in front of another Chinese person. Some Chinese friends of mine have spoken to me of their fears that if they did certain things they could not dare to show their face. Not daring to show one’s face is a feeling of shame. Other people’s opinions of you really matter, indeed they matter more sometimes than anything else. Knowing how sensitive Chinese people are to shame, that is why I earlier stressed the shaving of the heads under the Qing Dynasty, and the shame which it inflicted on millions of people. And shame was the greatest of all sufferings for them, for I do believe that many Chinese people would rather starve or die than to be deeply ashamed.

But the other kind of culture, the anthropologists say, is a guilt culture. Such a culture is completely different. In one of those cultures, which the Western cultures were until about fifty years ago, people are restrained by feelings of guilt, not by fear of shame. What other people think is not what is important. Instead the feeling is an inner fear of guilt or sin, or having broken rules which you know inside by your conscience, or which God will see because he sees everything, even more than neighbours can see. Because God can see into the secret recesses of the human heart, and knows everything. Therefore, when a Western person in the past did something wrong, he felt guilt rather than shame. He might feel shame also, but it was much less important. This was because until about fifty years ago, Western cultures had very strong religious traditions, both Christian and Jewish, and both of these taught the concept of guilt very strongly.

But today everything has changed in the West. Religion is no longer very strong except amongst a minority. Guilt has largely disappeared. But alas, there is no shame to take its place. We all know the name of a prominent person in America who had no shame at all. I do not need to name him. Although I believe that he was an extreme case, and had a deep personal psychological problem, he represented in an extreme way the problem with which the entire Western world is currently struggling: lack of reasons to behave well, and lack of reasons to restrain oneself. One could even say that what Westerners need today is a good dose of Chinese shame, to make them behave better.

But let us return to the problem of China before 1580. We see a China which was very much a shame culture, not a guilt culture. It had always been a shame culture, and I believe that it always will be a shame culture. That is the Chinese way. I only make an observation, not a criticism. But what are the consequences of a shame culture when one is considering technological advances? In a shame culture, there is plenty of incentive to invent things, because people will think highly of you. You will become famous amongst your friends for being clever and useful. So Chinese society has always encouraged that. To invent something in China, one feels the opposite of shame, one feels pride and joy. In the same way today, when a young person qualifies for entry into Tsinghua University, he feels such pride and joy, his parents are bursting with pride and joy, his friends are all impressed, he gets a high reputation. That is just the same social encouragement which has always existed in China for invention and discovery. If you invented something useful like the wheelbarrow, the chain drive, the belt drive, efficient horse harnesses, the crank handle, the segmental arch bridge, – and all of these were invented in China, – it was like getting into Tsinghua ten times. So great would your reputation be amongst your family and friends! Everyone would praise you, and your heart would be joyous.

But what about the widespread adoption and use of such technology? Here there was a problem. Chinese people do not like to have sole responsibility for decisions, because if anything goes wrong they will experience shame. So they need to take their decisions on a consensus basis in a group, and then no single Chinese person will get the shame if something goes wrong. Each individual is protected by the group. A group can survive shame, because the shame can be diffused. But an individual in China can never survive shame if he or she bears it alone.

But what groups were available to inventors in traditional China? Where could an inventor go to spread the risk of shame so that he would be safe? There were no High Tech Zones in those days. There were no research institutes. There were no technological universities. There were no technological ministries or bureaux. An inventor was on his own. Having received the praise from his family and friends for making the invention, he dare not risk the shame of attempting to deploy it on his own initiative. If friends wanted to copy the invention and use it and spread its use, that was OK. He would not be blamed if anything went wrong because he had not initiated anything. If he went to see a merchant to ask for some money to spread the use of his invention, no merchant would give him any money. There were no patents or intellectual property rights to protect his invention. If the merchant liked the invention he would just copy it for free and use it. But he would not be foolish enough to try to manufacture and sell it, because the merchant in the next town would just steal it and the merchant in the next town after that would just steal it again, and so on. So we see that the fear of shame and the lack of economic security join here, and make exploitation of inventions almost impossible in traditional China.

From time to time an emperor would take a fancy to some new invention, as happened with the first mechanical clocks. But then the mechanical clock was forgotten in China, and during the Ming Dynasty when the Westerners showed one to a Ming Emperor, he thought it was a Western invention, not realizing that the Chinese had invented it centuries earlier and then forgotten and lost it, and that the concept had spread to the West from China, although the precise mechanism differed.

There is another psychological difference between Chinese and Westerners which is more profound that the shame and guilt dichotomy, and goes back further in time. I refer to the extreme individualism which has been traditional in the West since the times of the ancient Greeks. There is no such tradition in China. Sometimes extreme individualism can be productive and can drive forward technological implementations, especially within a business context. However, extreme individualism has its disadvantages as well, just as anything which is extreme cannot be entirely good. Amongst the ancient Greeks, the most famous philosopher, Aristotle, agreed with the famous Chinese philosopher Kong Zi, in recommending restraint and moderation in all things. All deep thinkers in all cultures agree on that point. I think everyone here today probably shares that opinion. But the extremes of individualism should never be forgotten by the Chinese when trying to understand certain aspects of the West, both contemporary and historical. These psychological factors can be just as important as economic and social factors.

I think that we have examined enough of the aspects of the Needham Puzzle for now. In fact, I do not believe that Chinese people need to worry too much about the Needham Puzzle. It should not make them worried about their future. There is nothing wrong with the Chinese people that is any worse than all the things that are wrong with everybody else. Different peoples have different failings, and different strengths. It is part of the wonderful diversity of our planet. But surely if there were anything seriously wrong with the Chinese people, they would not have accomplished the greatest miracle of all: that they are still here, in China, with a thriving civilization and culture, thousands of years after they started. Where are the Egyptians? The Greeks? The Romans? The Babylonians? They disappeared. The people who live in those countries now do not have the same cultures, and often are not the same people. So many ancient empires have vanished. But the Chinese have survived. And because they have survived, they should be proud of their past achievements. But much more than the monuments of the past, the Chinese should be proud of the inventions and discoveries of the past. For these intellectual monuments are greater than the Great Wall, more spacious than the Forbidden City, more beautiful than the West Lake, more elegant than the gardens of Suzhou. And although physical monuments can be destroyed and taken away from you, as has often happened, intellectual monuments cannot, as long as memory of them survives. That is why the most important tradition of China is its scientific and technological tradition.

In closing, I want to list some of the Chinese inventions and discoveries, and give the periods of time which elapsed between the recorded invention or discovery in China and its adoption or recognition in the West:

The cultivation of crops in rows rather than at random. 2,200 years.
The iron plough. 2,200 years.
Trace harnesses for horses. 500 years.
Collar harnesses for horses. 1,000 years.
The rotary winnowing fan. Never adopted in the West.
The multi-tube modern seed drill. 1,800 years.
From these you can see that China was two millennia in advance of the West in agriculture.

Quantitative cartography. 1,300 years.
The so-called Mercator Map Projection. 600 years.
Mounted equatorial astronomical instruments. 600 years.
Cast iron. 1,700 years.
The crank handle. 1,100 years.
The so-called Bessemer steel process. 2,000 years.
The so-called Siemens steel process. 1,300 years.
Deep drilling for natural gas. 1,900 years.
The belt drive or driving-belt. 1,800 years.
The chain pump. 1,400 years.
The suspension bridge. Between 1,800 and 2,200 years.
The first cybernetic machine. 1,600 years but possibly 3,000 years.
Essentials of the steam engine. 1,200 years.
The segmental arch bridge. 500 years.
The chain-drive. 800 years.
The first plastic, namely lacquer. 3,200 years.
Petroleum and natural gas as fuel. 2,300 years.
Paper. 1,400 years.
The wheelbarrow. 1,300 years.
Sliding callipers. 1,700 years.
The fishing reel. 1,400 years.
The stirrup. 300 years.
Porcelain. 1,700 years.
Biological pest control. 1,600 years.
The umbrella. 1,200 years.
Matches. 1,000 years.
Brandy and whisky. 500 years.
The mechanical clock. 585 years.
Block printing. 700 years.
Printing with moveable type. 400 years.
Playing-cards. 500 years.
Paper money. 850 years.
The spinning-wheel. 200 years.
Circulation of the blood recognised. 1,800 years.
Circadian rhythms in the human body recognised. 2,150 years.
The science of endocrinology. 2,100 years.
Deficiency diseases recognised. 1,600 years.
Diabetes discovered by urine analysis. 1,000 years.
Use of thyroid hormone. 1,250 years.
Inoculation (against smallpox). 800 years.
The decimal system in mathematics. 2,300 years.
A place for zero in arithmetic. 1,400 years.
Negative numbers. 1,700 years.
Extraction of higher roots and solutions of higher numerical equations. 600 years.
Decimal fractions. 1,600 years.
Using algebra in geometry. 1,000 years.
The so-called Pascal’s Triangle of binomial coefficients. 427 years.
The magnetic compass. 1,500 years.
Dial and pointer devices. 1,200 years.
Magnetic declination of the Earth’s magnetic field recognised. 600 years.
Magnetic remanence and magnetic induction. 600 years.
Geobotanical prospecting. 2,100 years.
The First Law of Motion (so-called Newton’s). 1,300 years, but 2,000 years before Newton.
The hexagonal structure of snowflakes. 1,800 years.
The seismograph. 1,400 years.
Spontaneous combustion. 1,500 years.
So-called Huttonian (modern) geology. 1,500 years.
Phosphorescent paint. 700 years.
The kite. 2,000 years.
The first manned flight. 1,650 years.
Relief maps. 1,600 years.
Contour transport canals. 1,900 years.
The parachute. 2,000 years.
Miniature hot-air balloons. 1,400 years.
The rudder. 1,100 years.
Batten sails and staggered masts. Never adopted in West.
Multiple masts and Fore-and-Aft Rigs. 1,200 years.
Leeboards. 800 years.
Watertight compartments (bulkhead construction) in ships. 1,700 years.
The helicopter rotor and the propeller. 1,500 years.
The paddle-wheel boat. 1,000 years.
The canal pound-lock. 400 years.
The large tuned bell. 2,500 years.
Tuned drums. Unknown in West.
Hermetically sealed research laboratories. 2,000 years.
Musical timbre understood. 1,600 years.
Equal temperament in music. 50 years.
Chemical warfare/ poison gas, tear gas/ smoke bombs. 2,300 years.
The crossbow. 200 years.
Gunpowder. 300 years.
The flame-thrower. 1,000 years.
Flares and fireworks. 250 years.
Soft bombs and grenades. 400 years.
Metal-cased bombs. 246 years.
Land mines. 126 years.
Sea mines. 200 years.
The rocket. 200 years.
Multi-stage rocket. 600 years.
Early guns, cannons, mortars. 450 years.
The true gun. 50 years.

I have not listed everything. Some things such as land sailing I left out because they were not very important, but some things such as cupro-nickel alloy I have left out because more research needs to be done on it. So although the above list is not complete, I have used it to take an average of the time-delay for the adoption of a Chinese invention or discovery in the West. There are 96 listings above, even though they sometimes represent more than one invention per listing, of which three were never adopted in the West and 93 were. If using only the conservative time figures we add up all the time delays (113,734 years) and divide that figure by 93, we get the average time delay of 1,223 years for a transmission time of a Chinese invention to the West. That figure gives some rough indication of the order of magnitude by which China was temporally ahead of the West. But we must not forget that this average time-lag was not between an invention in China and its re-invention in the West. What we are talking about are merely delays in transmission and adoption. Few if any of these Chinese inventions and discoveries can be said to have had any independent invention or discovery in the West. They were all transmitted either by direct diffusion, such as physical objects actually being transported, or by what Joseph Needham (Li Yuese) called stimulus diffusion, where a description alone and not an object was transmitted, as happened with the mechanical clock.

I cannot go into any more details of the history of Chinese science and technology now, nor can I explain in any greater detail its adoption in the West. The above list will have to suffice as an indication of the fantastic extent to which China contributed to the critical mass of fundamental inventions and discoveries which led to the creation of the modern world. It is immediately obvious to anyone that the contribution was overwhelming, like a tidal wave of genius which engulfed the West. And during the years after 1580, when China was unable to create the world which we now call modern, the Westerners went ahead and did it, using Chinese ingredients as well as Western ones. But I believe we can safely say that more than half of the ingredients were Chinese in origin. Imagine a large international building built of bricks of two colours: red and blue. The red are Chinese, the blue are Western. If we imagine the modern world as being such a building, then more than one side is red, and less than one side is blue. But neither can stand without the other, for there is no building at all unless it is both red and blue.

This is the world of today. This is the world in which we all live. Let us all, whether we are red or we are blue, whether we are yellow or we are white, see clearly that there is only one way ahead: a multi-coloured way. And as we go ahead together, the Chinese can be proud of their contributions so far, and of those many wonderful contributions yet to come.