Category: Blog

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“Chinese-style Democracy: The Reality” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

Barry Li’s view on the mindset of the new generation of ‘new Chinese’ (basically those born from the 1980s on) can be summed up in the final paragraph of his extract:

“They do not like to hear anyone, including the mainstream Australian media, describe China as an extreme communist country, because it simply is not true. They probably will not be offended if you describe the Chinese as realists, because they mostly are. They will be offended if you tell them that the South China Sea does not belong to China, even though they personally do not own a single drop of water in that sea.”

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“Chinese-style Democracy: Human Rights in China” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

China, as Barry Li disclaims in the very first sentence of this excerpt, does indeed have a “poor record” on human rights. Li doesn’t expound further on particular issues, as neither will I. Plenty of journalists and articles elsewhere explain what has been done or denied to certain people, particularly those of ethnic minorities and those with political agendas not favourable towards the CCP. Likely Li doesn’t want to be blacklisted as a trouble maker in his home country;

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“Chinese Style Democracy: The Dilemmas” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

The title of this chapter should be enough to give away that this will not be an easy topic. Interesting, undoubtedly, and perhaps controversial. Chinese style democracy is sure to fall short of the hopes of some, and higher in the expectations of others.

This passage is perhaps one of the longest so far, as Li spends more time covering pre 1949 history than anything too contemporary. He does this in order to explain the answer to a question he once heard from a senior manager in a top accounting firm: is there any chance or risk that large, wealthy cities like Beijing and Shanghai – given their significance – may break away and declare independence from China?

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“Four Generations of Change” : Outcomes of the One and Two-Child Policies – Musings from an Australian Perspective

This is not an extract from Li’s book, The New Chinese, but it is such an important development in recent Chinese history that I thought it deserved its own post. There are plenty of accurately researched articles about the policy’s history and about how it was/is implemented that can be easily found; this article will be more a gathering of threads together to explore what the One-Child Policy, and the recent revoking of it into a Two-Child Policy, means in an Australian context.

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“The Four Generations of Change: The Baby Boomers” – Musings from an Australian perspective

 There’s a lot of babies in this chapter. I myself am not overly fond of newborns (I’m told my opinion will change when my friends or I start having children. I’ll wait to believe it.) but it seems that China, between 1949 and 1979, was. If you’ve ever wondered what was happening to China’s population when the one-child-policy was bought in, here’s the breakdown according to Li:

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Tianjin skyline

“Four Generations of Change: Chinese Gen X” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

If you haven’t heard the ‘Chinese G X’ term before, don’t worry. It’s one made up by author Barry Li to describe the generation of mainland Chinese born between 1966 and 1976. This period of ten years is significant in Chinese history for being the years of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution is something I know bits and pieces of, and have tried to comprehend as a whole; if you’re like me and are maybe not quite familiar with its concept and policies don’t worry, my last blog briefly tracks through some of its ambitions and policies.

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Wanning countryside, 27th Jan 2015

“Four Generations of Change: Chinese Gen X” Cultural Revolution – Musings from an Australian Perspective

I’m taking a quick side-step on my discussion of Barry Li’s book The New Chinese: How They Are Changing Australia to briefly discuss the Cultural Revolution. This event, from 1966 – 1976 is significant in the lives of the next two generations Li covers in this chapter – those of the Chinese Gen X and the Chinese Baby Boomers. Understanding the way in which the Cultural Revolution shaped the lives and mindset of millions of Chinese is important in understanding how they act today, and the manner of influence they have on the younger generation.

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Wanning countryside village courtyard home, January 2015

“Four Generations of Change: The 80 后” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

80后 hòu is the Chinese term used to describe someone born between 1980 and 1989. This is the generation that Barry Li, author of The New Chinese, belongs to. This is a generation of a rapidly changing environment from post Cultural Revolution to technology, infrastructure and an opening up to the West.

Li describes growing up in Suzhou (China’s version of Oldtown from Westeros) with his great-aunt and his cousin (who really was actually the daughter of his grandmother’s adopted daughter. Complicated. For all intents and purposes, he calls her his sister, which is the done thing among the one-child generations. It used to confuse me a lot when students I used to teach in Beijing would tell me of their multiple brothers and sister; for a long time I thought it was just an English error they were making.)

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An empty Erskinville train station platform, May 2017

“From the Gold Rush to the Property Rush” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

There are plenty of things being done and still more about the frustration Barry Li shares about homeownership in his book The New Chinese: How They Are Changing Australia.

Foreign homeownership has been an element at the heart of the debate over Australian housing market price increases. The Chinese are regularly blamed for the price hike, purportedly pushing new owners out of the competition, and rising rental prices for lack of availability.

Local Chinese families aren’t immune either, unable to compete with Chinese buyers who are helped by “their entire family, who [have] a lifetime of savings in their pocket boosted by the economic boom”.