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Monday, 29 August 2011

Freedom and Smiles: image study of Hu Shih (III)

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 自由与微笑:胡适图像研究    
An abbreviated translation by @krizcpec (Part 3 of 3)

Three: Self and others

We all know that Hu Shih was an intellectual, and in some way a public figure. As a result, he must have paid much attention to the public communication effect of his photos and would not let photos that would harm his image be used in publication. The problem was, while he could request his friends and relatives not to make public photos of him that didn't look good, he had no control over the photos taken by reporters of newspapers and magazines. 

What I want to say is this: not all of the photos of Hu Shih passed on to this day were under control of Hu himself. He had no say over the source of the images, how they spread, or the way they were interpreted. Base on this premise we can say that all those photos of Hu Shih with a broad smile, looking cordial and restrained, dignified and peaceful were a result of his self-cultivation, namely: to speak and write with sincerity, be a serene person, and smile often. Some may accuse Hu of affectation. But when someone managed to maintain the same affectation all his life, that's remarkable. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Freedom and Smiles: image study of Hu Shih (II)

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 自由与微笑:胡适图像研究
An abbreviated translation by @krizcpec (Part 2 of 3)
Two: Self-expectation

In his book, Autobiographical account at forty (《四十自述》), Hu Shih wrote that since he was little, he had seen the hardship his mother had to withstand in running an extended family; the incompetent eldest sister-in-law and the competent second eldest sister-in-law both tended to show other a nasty face, showing no regards as to how others would feel. He slowly came to the understanding that “there is nothing more offensive than an angry face; nothing more indecent than showing others that angry face, which is harder to bear than being scolded or beaten.”

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Freedom and Smiles: image study of Hu Shih (I)

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 自由与微笑:胡适图像研究    
An abbreviated translation by @krizcpec (Part 1 of 3)

Ran note: This is a reading report that I wrote recently for [newsletter] issue twenty-sixth of Hu Shih reading club. Now I published it in my blog, please feel free to comment. Been quite occupied these days: lots of socializing around Lunar new year, and a lot to write about. In less than two months, I got a flu again.
February 24, 2010 at 8:15 in Chengdu

Publications of studies on Hu Shih are in great quantity indeed. Yet it seems almost no one has done any proper research into the huge amount of photos Mr. Hu Shih left behind, his calligraphy, and visual productions about him (including recordings of his speech). The book Smile of Heresy: the image of Hu (《微笑的异端:影像中的胡适》) by Sun Yu reads more like image description, or erratic elaboration utterly irrelevant to the subject. He did not focus on explaining why Hu often smiled in his photos. 

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Sichuan Earthquake, Six months on: in Memory of the Victims

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 四川大地震半年祭
Translated by @Aliceyoung, proofread by @krizcpec

It's hard to believe that six months have passed since the devastating earthquake struck. For anyone who personally experienced that disaster, fear and pain are far from enough to express what they feel.

Looking back through history, comparing with any other peoples, we can see that God did not hand down special punishment to the Chinese people, including those living in Sichuan. On the contrary, they were given a vast and beautiful place to live, with rivers and mountains. What is loathsome is that for decades those who rule the country do not cherish it, triggering one man-made disaster after another, making this beautiful place a land of desolation.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Fear of Chinese Government Officials

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 中国官员们的恐惧
Translated, proofread by @krizcpec

I read a report on the Internet that said many officials have anxiety about the Internet. Though there was no statistics provided, I found that report believable. Why?

Throughout history, [until the age of the Internet,] Chinese government officials had never been under genuine supervision and restriction. The saying “people's eyes are sharp” is but another way of saying that people are blind selectively. When the authorities need your eyes to be sharp, your eyes have to be sharp; when the authorities need you to turn a blind eye to something, you would have to do as you are told. In other words, the masses are used by government officials as puppets, and they can do nothing about it. On top of these, the populace sees the officials' unlawful actions, corruption and has no channel to air their discontent: the media, controlled by the government, would certainly not cover news stories that make officials look bad [simply because the public is dissatisfied]. Those disclosed corruption cases may be real, but their disclosures were not the result of effective supervision by the people, but rather the political struggle at top levels; or they could also mean those politicians had lost their backing. These disclosures have nothing to do with democratic and free supervision or victory of the common people; anti-corruption is but a pretext with which different political figures or factions fought against each other.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Heredity of Civil Service Positions, A Social Disaster

Hyperlink to source text in Chinese: 公务员世袭化是社会大灾难
Translated, proofread by @krizcpec

Ran note: The controversy over “Rich 2G*” is yet to be over; the shock and anger that “Crown Prince Party” have caused in the public is gradually spreading across the country, a phenomenon that needs more discussion and attention from all sectors of society. To me, the problem is not just about the “Crown Prince Party”, it is also about government officials who have turned, through nepotism, civil service positions into heredity. In other words, civil servants as a most secure “iron rice bowl” during economic crisis is now hereditary, and the ratio of positions filled by favoritism is shockingly high. Below is a column I wrote for China in Perspective, which explored the problems of heredity of civil service position, comments are welcome.

September 2, 2009, 7:46 in Chengdu

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Update: Ran Yunfei is home!

Great News!
According to Feng Zhenghu @fzhenghu and He Qinglian @HeQinglian, dissident writer Ran Yunfei @ranyunfei has been released at 10 p.m. local time last night, ending his 171 days of detention. He is now home under house arrest, or translated literally, residential surveillance (監視居住).
Below are twitterers reactions to this long awaited piece of good news:

Special thanks to @fabiano226, @Michae1S, @dissenter2020, @awfan, @SikoAlice, @michelle9647, @michisle, @ruanji and many others for their efforts in this project. You have all helped secured his release from detention.

However, given that the authorities still impose restrictions on Mr. Ran Yunfei, he is not truly free yet. Therefore, this translation project does not end here, it will continue until Mr. Ran's freedom is fully restored.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Don't be indolent, think!

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 别在思考上偷懒

Translated, proofread by @krizcpec

Chongqing officials' eerily oppressive approach is really funny: I was invited to give a talk at a forum, and it was canceled on the grounds that fire safety requirements had not been met. However, some of my friends didn't give up trying, and at last they managed to organize in a bar a talk that was more like a question and answer session. The audience was from the younger generations, most were students. 

The theme was movies, we discussed Chinese movies shot by foreigners; education in movies; and movies I enjoyed. These would of course led to discussion on many social problems, because they are closely related to our lives, and our rights. And I felt they were all anxious, eager to have an answer, or the answer, to whatever problems they have; this mentality may not be limited to individuals, nor is it just a reflection of the youthfulness of these people, it is, I'm afraid, a sentiment that is spreading across society. Such sentiment is understandable: it is a response from the masses who are increasingly disappointed with the government; it could be used as a wind vane to observe this society.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Use your change as a testimony

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 用你的改变作见证
Translated, proofread by @krizcpec

Ran note: this is written in reply to a friend of mine, please feel free to comment. What I wrote about here are just small actions that do not need you to pay a big price, not to mention sacrifice your life; I am cautious toward those actions that require people to give their lives, not that I'm timid, but because the expected benefits of those actions are hard to control. I do not mean that the only choice you have is to keep your head down and live in disgrace; you have the right to live that way if you wish, though. No one can point the finger at you.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

How should citizens treat the government

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 公民应该怎样对待政府
Translated by @Michae1S, proofread by @krizcpec 

Some people said I am unreasonable as I often criticize the government, I wrote in response an article “Who Exactly Is Unreasonable?”, hoping the public could see that our government is many times more unreasonable than the masses. They use all sorts of propaganda that go every extreme to instill in the public ideas that are in their favor, and suppress any criticism and questions. There is nothing more unreasonable than muzzling dissent voices. Apart from this, I must keep pointing out that criticizing, instead of praising the government is the bounden duty of every citizen. This is more true in China, where the government is not under any real oversight and restrictions. Just like the disaster relief works following the snow storm this year, I couldn't say the government hasn't done anything, yet what it did was far from a job well done. Moreover, officials have evaded issues of human errors in the disaster, and those who neglected their duty have not been duly punished; these are serious disrespect to the dead and the rights of the victims, and a government like this should be criticized nonstop. However, it appears to some individuals that the government is aggrieved, and that the masses have wrongly accused the government of its decades of bad governance. In fact, there is no other race in the world that is more obedient than the Chinese people.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The government is not to be enshrined

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 政府不是拿来供着的
Translated and proofread by @krizcpec

Thomas Paine is remembered for the booklet he authored, Common Sense, from which many draw ideas to deliberate on Western Democracies, liberty, and government's legitimacy. Many of the common sense that we are going to cover are but a continuation of wisdom of human and reinterpretation of it. Some of the common sense had quickly become consensus, and for many reasons, a view that is almost universally agreed on fails to get approval on another land. Some common sense may have become a consensus rather quickly. Yet a consensus that is almost universally agreed upon has, for many reasons, not been approved on another land. It has even been smeared by the many interest groups and those have voice in their control, with the purpose to exploit interests of others and pocket the benefits themselves. I will today give a few examples to illustrate why government is not to be enshrined, so as to make things clear to those readers who ask me to put myself into the government’s shoes, these people are mostly civil servants, one of them leaves comments on my blog using the name “a rank-and-file bureaucrat”, and of course there are also those who have been brainwashed, become out of touch with real life and use “conditions of the country” as an excuse to shrink from their responsibilities. “Government is not to be enshrined” could be written into a booklet like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, serving the purpose of revealing [the nature of government] to humankind, and to alert them. As I get to know more and become more experienced, maybe I should perhaps give this task a try. What's covered in today's article serves only as a beginning of this project, it may not be comprehensive, but there's time to develop it further in future.