Today, we are delighted to announce the public launch of our latest publication, Chinese Voices. Every week, Dongsheng brings you a view into the key debates and critical thought guiding Chinese politics and society. We draw from a broad range of sources, covering the work of important Chinese intellectuals, academics, and public opinion leaders – voices that are rarely published outside of China.
Published every Sunday, Chinese Voices includes five selected articles that we write 200-word synopses of and translate into English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The full texts are machine-translated from Chinese for your convenient reading.
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Zhejiang province, where Xi Jinping was the secretary of the Provincial Party Committee from 2002 to 2007, has continually ranked among the top economies measured by total economic output. More importantly, the ratio of disposable income per capita of urban to rural residents remains the lowest compared to other provinces (1.96:1 in 2020). These achievements are why Zhejiang province is a model region (示范区shìfàn qū）for "common prosperity." Liu Ting believes that the most important reason behind these achievements is the commitment to the private economy (民营经济 mínyíng jīngjì), which enables common people to achieve common prosperity. Firstly, Zhejiang and its people continue to preserve the cultural influence inherited from ancient Chinese philosophy that "industry and commerce are the roots, and equal emphasis should be put on righteousness and benefits." Zhejiang also respects the desire for a comfortable standard of living for its people. Secondly, by learning from past experiences, Zhejiang province created a realistic path of reform for development, which in turn lead to common prosperity, thus avoiding slipping into the trap of "utopian socialism." Finally, in recent years, Zhejiang province developed four distinctive economic aspects with competitive advantages, namely, a self-driven private economy, an ecological economy characterized as "clear waters and green mountains" (青山绿水 qīngshān lǜ shuǐ), a future-oriented digital intelligence economy (数智经济 shù zhì jīngjì）that applies information technology and artificial intelligence, and a humanistic economy that balances "healthy development" and "spiritual wealth." With criticism and exclusion of the private economy, Liu stresses that China should develop a renewed understanding of the role of the private economy in the process of achieving common prosperity. After all, the private economy, which is derived from the reform era, is also what led Zhejiang province to its success.
Professor Justin Lin argues that there is a third political decision-making motivation "serving the people" (为人民服务wéi rénmín fúwù), which means that the government considers people's interests in decision-making rather than those of interest groups and politicians themselves. In Western mainstream economics, there are two dominating hypotheses about the motivations behind government decision-making, one based on serving interest groups and the other on the politicians' own interests. Both of these conflict with government's role of being a "benevolent social planner." In contrast, serving the people, a core principle that China's government officials must embody, is in line with Chinese traditional political philosophy and the characteristics of benevolent social planner. The "serve the people" principle requires governmental officials at all levels to take initiative in correcting market failures and maintaining economic and social stability by implementing relief measures, particularly during times of crisis. The Chinese governments' practices amid 2020 COVID-19 is a primary example. Lin's research on government measures of issuing consumer vouchers found that economic indicators, such as the proportion of the service sector's contribution to the economy, were key factors in the decision to issue vouchers. Notably, the service sector includes the vast majority of people's jobs that were affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment of governments in consumer vouchers prioritized the needs of the people over the interests of politicians and interest groups, which supports Lin's theory of the third political decision-making motivation – to serve the people.
On October 16th, China launched the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and the three-person crew successfully entered the Tiangong space station. Wang Yaping (王亚平), the woman taikonaut on board, received significant public attention from home and abroad. As the second Chinese woman sent to space, the 41-year-old finished a 15-day spaceflight back in 2013. The launch of Shenzhou-13 is Wang's second mission, where she will spend six months on the space station. Chen Lan points out that since the first human spacecraft Shenzhou-5 was launched in 2013, China has sent 12 astronauts to space, including two women. The proportion of astronauts who are women in China is higher than that of the Soviet Union and the United States in the early years. For example, because of gender bias, it took over 20 years after its first space mission for the United States to send the first woman to space in 1983. The author explains that among major space powers, China demonstrates outstanding performance in promoting gender equality in space programs. For example, women astronauts participated in both flights of China’s prototype space station Tiangong-1, whereas no women have participated in comparable foreign missions. In addition to the political importance of women's equality, the country also recognizes women’s value from a scientific perspective, particularly for long-term spaceflight. Although the aerospace medical studies on women are still at an early stage, it is widely acknowledged by scientists that there is no obvious difference between male and female astronauts in terms of working and adaptation capabilities, and in fact women astronauts have their own advantages. Furthermore, women generally have smaller bodies, which means they use fewer resources and create less waste. In conclusion, with the development of aerospace technology and the global effort on gender equality, women are playing a more significant role in space missions. To date, a total of 68 women astronauts from nine countries have entered space.
Set during the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, China's latest war epic film The Battle at Lake Changjin dominated the Chinese mainland box office and spurred heated discussions among young people. Although he speaks highly of the film, General Luo Yuan notes three common misconceptions about the war and debunks them one by one. Firstly, some believe that it was North Korea that initiated the invasion. General Luo argues that one must look beyond which side fired the first shot. North Korea was fighting to unify the Korean Peninsula and, as a consequence, was forced to defend itself against the US-backed South Korea. Secondly, some people believe that it was not worthwhile for China to make such an immense sacrifice for North Korea. General Luo makes the case that the CPC Central Committee's decision to enter Korea was a prudent one, not only in support of internationalism, but fundamentally for the national interest of China. Chairman Mao's judgment was that China's participation in the war would be more beneficial than harmful because if North Korea fell, the US-South Korea military alliance would threaten China's territorial security, interfering with its socialist construction. Thirdly, there is an argument that China only won a Pyrrhic victory, or one that only comes at the expense of huge losses. General Luo asserts that it was a victory in all respects. China secured a peaceful environment for socialist construction and enkindled the nation's patriotism. Also, the unity among socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and China, was strengthened. This unity subsequently advanced China's industrialization and built up its national defense. Most importantly, the victory proved that the US is not undefeatable and left a lasting legacy that inspires both the Chinese people and the oppressed peoples in the rest of the world.
This October 20 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joan Hinton (1921-2010), a committed internationalist from the US. With the rise of liberation movements of oppressed peoples during World War II, many people went abroad to support the anti-fascist struggles in the developing countries. However, only few shared the internationalism of Joan Hinton and her husband Erwin Engst, who decided to plant their roots in China in solidarity with the Chinese revolution and the country's socialist construction. In 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, causing the peace-loving US nuclear physicist Hinton to feel repulsed. Her dream of pure science was shattered when she realized that her research was funded by the US military. However, "red China," which was full of passion and idealism, as described by Engst who was then already in China, gave her renewed hope for a new life. Deeply inspired, she arrived in the communist base area of Yan'an in April 1949. Later that Spring, she got married to Engst in a humble cave dwelling (窑洞 yáo dòng) in Yan'an. Branded as "The Atom Spy Who Got Away" by the US media, Hinton worked extensively in agriculture when China was suffering from material scarcity. She and her husband were engaged in improving the quality of cattle and mechanizing dairy farms as they established an agricultural experimental base in Guanghua Farm. She helped create the "San Bian Pasture" and later moved to Xiaowangzhuang Village to experiment on mechanized cattle rearing. Because of their efforts, New China's first generation of children had access to milk. Throughout their life, they held communist beliefs and revolutionary ideals. In 1952, Hinton was invited by Soong Ching-ling (宋庆龄), who was vice chairman of the Central People's Government of China, to speak at the Asia-Pacific Peace Conference, where she called for world peace and destroying atomic bombs. Erwin Engst and Joan Hinton passed away in 2003 and 2010, respectively, but their stories carry on and are commemorated in Chinese media and by the Chinese people.
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