Thursday, September 29, 2005

Confucius Out, China's Military Build Up In

Teachers of Chinese took to the streets in Taiwan today to protest the decline of Confucian teachings in the curriculum.

Dozens of teachers of Chinese took to the streets in Taipei yesterday to protest against the neglect of Confucian teachings, while the nation paid tribute to the sage on the occasion of his 2,555th birthday.

The birthday of Confucius is also marked as Teachers' Day. It is no longer a national holiday, however.

Each with a copy of The Analects of Confucius in hand, the teachers marched in front of the Confucian temple in Talungtung, calling for reinstitution of the teachings of the sage to senior high school curricula.

The teachers were met by Mayor Ma who assured them that China is Confucius....and refuted by the Ministry:

The Education Ministry cut one Chinese class a week and ended the teachings of Confucius, including The Analects and Mencius, as required courses in high schools.

The league, which organized the protest march, wants the Ministry of Education to retract its decision. High school students have to be given five Chinese classes a week and the courses made mandatory again.


The Ministry of Education denied it neglects the teaching of Chinese and pays no attention to the teachings of Confucius.

"We reduced the Chinese teaching hours," a spokesman said. "But otherwise there is no neglect whatsoever," he added.

Students can elect to study the teachings of Confucius for exactly the same hours a week as before. "The only change is from 'required' to 'elective' courses," the official said.

Whoops! Seems like students don't want to elect Confucius. Naturally, in the best traditions of Confucius, they should be forced!* Could that be part of the dastardly de-Sinification process so feared by the students in China? Or maybe the students feel that Confucius is dull, especially the way he is presented in high school classes. I'm inclined toward door number 2 on that one. The view of an idealized Chinese culture as cultural-hegemony paradigm was expressed by students and teachers attending Li Ao's speeches in China this week. Here's one at Fudan U in Shanghai, courtesy of ESWN:

Q: I am a teacher in the History Department at Fudan University. I want to ask you a question about Taiwan history textbooks. When Bai Yansong interviewed you and also when you delivered the speech at Tsinghua University a few days ago, this problem was brought up. Do you think that the controversies brought by the Taiwan history textbook prepared by Du Zhengsheng and Zhou Liangkai can be ignored? You said that when a child grows up, he will get his national and cultural identity. But when we think about this, Taiwan independent elements like Du Zhengsheng and Zhou Liangkai grew up as children. At that time, there wasn't even the systematic de-Sinofication process in the textbooks and they became Taiwan independent elements all the same. Your expectation for the children is like a laissez-faire approach. Do you think that will be effective against this systematic de-Sinofication process?

Taiwan's "de-Sinofication process" dates back to the Japanese period. Maybe someone ought to teach that history teacher some history.....more interesting is the way Chinese participants in this debate all stake out an either/or position on the definition of "Chinese" culture. What they can't accept is that Taiwan could be Chinese yet define its own rivulet of the great stream of Chinese cultural tradition. Further, it is almost too easy to point out that the students are there listening to a speech at a university in China, an institution organized in ways brought in from the West, engaged in western-style speech and Q&A session, all dressed in western clothing, wearing glasses and wristwatches, underweat and bras, sanitary napkins and handkerchiefs, typing on computers and sneaking a listen on their MPG players to rock and pop, and then going to home to watch the news on the TV and internet, and complain about the lack of free speech and respect for human rights....I for one am reassured to see that the resolute students of Fudan are out there resisting the tide of de-Sinification.

Speaking of sinicization, there seem to be quite a lot of fascinated-fantasy articles on China's military build-up lately....Reuters offers this one:

If the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet one day sails to Taiwan's defense, China's large fleet of submarines could be lurking with a lethal surprise.

The submarines, waiting along Taiwan's Pacific coast, could fire a barrage of "Sizzlers," devastating anti-ship weapons that pop out of the water, spot aircraft carriers or escort ships, then drop near the water's surface, accelerating to supersonic speeds for the kill. Little can be done to defend against a "Sizzler" attack.

"You're pretty much a sitting duck," said Larry M. Wortzel, a former U.S. military attache in Beijing who's now an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

The article also tries to balance the good with the bad....

Restraint may be advisable, given the lack of combat experience of PLA officers and rank-and-file alike since a short war with Vietnam in 1979. Moreover, training of conscripts and soldiers, while improving, still trails that of the U.S. military.

"Everybody who comes into the U.S. military knows how to drive a car. They can drive a Humvee away. But I don't think that's true for the PLA," said Dennis J. Blasko, a former military attache in Beijing who is an author on Chinese military matters.

Another article today discussed China's purchases of weapons from Russia and our ally Israel.

The relationship has proved thorny, straining Israel's relationship with Washington. U.S. officials first grew angry when Israel helped China develop its F-10 fighter jet, almost identical to the Israeli Lavi fighter, which was designed with more than $1 billion in U.S. aid.

In 2000, an angry White House thwarted Israel's plans to go through with a potential $1 billion deal to equip China with the Phalcon radar system.

A new crisis erupted this year in April. Washington grew angry that Israel appeared to be responding to a Chinese request to upgrade Israeli-made Harpy attack drones. The Harpy drones, first sold in 1997, can destroy enemy radar transmitters. The Pentagon subsequently announced restrictions on sharing information with Israel.

A story I read earlier today also claimed that the new Chinese fighter was developed with technology from the F-16 transferred from Pakistan. It's good to know our allies support us, and support small nations threatened by great powers.

*Sarcasm alert.

1 comment:

Budding Sinologist said...

"Moreover, training of [PLA] conscripts and soldiers, while improving, still trails that of the U.S. military."

Shocking! You mean that a conscript-based army isn't training to the level of the most well-educated and well-trained professional fighting force in the world? Who would have thought? Someone should nominate that story for understatement of the year.