China In Ten Words

The last three chapters of China in Ten Words reveal phenomena about China that are supposed to be revolutionary and provoke the masses. I don’t think “grassroots,” “copycat,” or “bamboozle” represent any revolutionary sentiments or even overly provocative. I think this book’s censorship made it seem more appealing to the masses than its content even reveals. The “grassroots” chapter talks about the people in China’s society that go against the mainstream and find creative ways to operate in the economic and governmental system. They typically aren’t overly educated, but still find ways to make money and live comfortably. I don’t believe the “grassroots” example shows any real issue with China, it just highlights people who are forced by necessity to innovate.

The “copycat” article talked about the phenomena of Chinese companies making knock-off cellphones, cameras, and other goods without investing in the R&D, turning quick and large profits. Yeah, they aren’t ethical companies by business standards, but they make money and are extremely adaptive making them hard to stop. Again, I don’t see this chapter as anything Chinese people don’t already see and recognize. They are well aware of the knock-off brands and aren’t concerned with them, especially because of the rapid economic boom during the 80’s and 90’s.

The “bamboozle” chapter too, is not unfamiliar to people in China. I think it draws the most provocative sentiments, but still is not overly radical. Of course people try to pull fast-ones on the government to avoid persecution. People will always be adaptive and try to avoid negative governmental actions. It happens in every country. It is certainly not going to persuade the people to rebel against the government, because the sentiment is already throughout the masses.

Coal Mining Outline

Completing my outline is a huge step forward preparing for the paper. My thesis is:

“China’s opening of the economy and rapid expansion of private enterprise resulted in unexpected regulatory enforcement issues for the State. Specifically in the mining industry, the expansion of the economy placed huge demands on energy, resulting in coal mines opening to meet demand, but absent from regulatory safety protocols to protect the safety of their workers. The State was/is unable to keep up with the regulatory protocols throughout the mining industry, resulting in a massive death rate for coal miners.”

With that in mind, I was able to find plenty of reports on accidents through out China and the data to reflect trends over the last ten years. China is producing 2x the amount of coal their were ten years ago, but accidents are slowly declining as the Party chooses to enforce regulations stronger.

From hear, condensing my outline into a paper is my main goal.

“Blind Shaft”

This weeks reading by Michael Dutton shares a really unique theme to the film “Blind Shaft” that I didn’t first recognize until attempting to link the two pieces. Dutton mentions the Chinese word liu, which means “to float.” It is used in reference to the migrant members of Chinese society that populate the cities, yet never incorporate the urban culture. Their style dress, accents and speech patterns mark them as inherently undesirable. They are  seen pejoratively, without purpose or footing in the local society. Similarly, the coal miners portrayed in “Blind Shaft” are viewed by the bosses in a similar fashion. The workers are without any worth, merely cogs with in an infinite supply of willing laborers. Chinese people became a commodity, and no longer exist with in a unifying ideology.

Chinese Coal Mining- Primary Source Analysis

My paper covers the frequent and often political nature of coal mining operations in China and how they interact in the political arena and public at large. A particularly poignant primary source I found on the China Digital Times website delves directly into this issue. It covers how Chinese officials bribed journalists a total of 2.6 million yuan ($380,000) not to report a mining accident that resulted in 35 people dying.  The officials also bribed the families of the victims not to say anything, keeping the accident unknown for a total of 85 days.

The cover-up represents  massive cultural and societal issues within the country, such as how to reconcile official’s fear and the need to keep face with higher officials. It also took place just before the 2008 Olympics, significant because the country as a whole was trying to appear in the best light possible, even to the extent of cover-ups such as these.

I think this source will help provide context and examples to how the government operates with regard to mining accidents. It also reveals some insight into why the leaders at the top of the party struggle to remedy such issues and rid corruption, because often times the free flow of information is impeded by the fear of reparations.

“China to Try 58 Accused of Covering Up Mine Deaths.” China Digital Times, November 30,        2009. http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2009/11/china-to-try-58-accused-of-covering-up-mine-deaths/ (accessed February 12,2013.)

 

Chinese Poster

This poster was published in 1983 just as the Party was continuing to advocate against corruption. The writing reads, “Foster a correct spirit, resist the evil spirit, resist corruption, never get involved with it,” representing many facets of the Party’s goals. First of all, the male appears to be a confident, relaxed white collar worker who was keeping logs on whatever work he was doing. It appears as though her is a person of authority, probably just regionally or locally. The man that he represents however is likely recreated all over China, with workers, businessmen, civil servants, and village heads. The motion of his hand shows his denial of accepting seemingly “corrupt” or “bad” gifts. He does not want to accept the bottles of liqueur presented with a bow, or the cartons of cigarets. Both of which are bad for your health, but likely represent broader issues. One such issue is bribery. The man in power, with his confident, yet temperate facial expression, is denying a bribe. He is fulfilling the parties aim of not being corrupt.

Where is it succeeds is in its humanity. It is not unrealistic for workers to receive gifts, even if as simple as wine and cigarets. And he doesn’t make a huge scene about it or seem angry or obtuse. He simply raises his hand as if to say,” no thanks.” Small decisions such as that repeated throughout the entire country would become huge, and hopefully squash corruption.

Mining in China

Specifically, I’d like to explore the mining operations and what sort of climate they operate under.  The mining accident in Guizhou that killed 18 people last November seems particularly interesting. I would like to explore what events led to the accident, as well as how the public perceived it.  I would also like to compare reactions of other miners compared to official statements issued by the government and press.  This accident was only one amongst many others, resulting in roughly 2,000 people killed in mining accidents over the last year.

The ChinaDigitalTimes website has many articles speaking towards the accidents. They include quotes and reactions as well. Another strong website is ChinaMining.org which is sponsored by the China Mining Association. This is a more formal representation of mining from the government’s perspective, rather than critical. It speaks to the mission of the mining companies and how they want to regulate operations more to protect the workers and environment, but it will be interesting to discover if it is actually accurate. EbiscoHost is also very source rich, with information on mining practices and policies, as well as critiques. One such piece is from Jerry Tien who wrote a critique of surface mining operations in China. Another such article is by Jennifer Qinghua Wang on the financial side of mining, and how they are able to finance the industry.

Collectively, these sources shed light on a lot of aspects of China’s mining industry, and I am not sure what direction I want to take it, but the topic does seem to have plenty of sources to focus my research with.

Li Tongzhong

The story of Li Tongzhong is fascinating in how it deals with critiquing the Great Leap Forward. It is critical, yet tactful in still maintaining a positive look back at the theory behind the Great Leap. I think when Li Tongzhong hit rock bottom and went to the grain silo to ask for 50,000 pounds of grain, the magnitude of the farmers’ plight was really felt. He described the farmers as immensely loyal communist workers, who truly believed in reform. They worked from sun up to sun down, freely providing the country with grain. They were described as pouring everything into the land reform, and tirelessly giving like a “mother spoiling her daughter.” But even after that, Tongzhong describes the state not as a draconian force purposely starving the workers, but blamed the mechanism that unfortunately over speculated grain production due to benevolent ambitions. Those in charge meant well, but the rhetoric eventually left the villagers without any food.

I think by 1979 when the story was published, the author meant to shed light on how the Great Leap Forward did in fact destroy the farming populations via starvation, yet he was tactful in not explicitly blaming the communist government. He blames the individuals who wanted so desperately to reach communism that they promised too much, and as a result those in the villages suffered. The author revealed how terrible it was for the farmers, yet still showed glimpses of hope and idealism. He was certainly critical of how the Leap played out, but remained loyal to the ideology behind the movement.

Young and Restless in China

The documentary “Young and Restless in China” shed greater insight into China’s growing ideological gap between generations. In particular, the question each younger generation person ask internally on how they fit in with the government and if they should stand up for their rights, or remain in fear. One segment that emphasized this conflict was illustrated with the young lawyer on her quest to fight for environmental rights. The build up to the 2008 Olympic games further intensified building projects throughout the country, and consequentially negatively affected many people and villages. Whether it was government controlled construction of power lines that never received permits, or public mining operations that devastated the local populations, civil rights violations are happening often. This young lawyer decided to stand up for many of the affected citizens and attempt legally to enact change. The rising middle class want fair and just laws, which they are prepared to fight for. Meanwhile, the older generation still is hesitant to cross the state, fearful of the repercussions.

Kielce Final

Following World War II, Poland’s political, physical, and ethnic identity was radically altered. Politically, the Soviet Union’s influence turned the Polish government’s ideology towards the east, while physically the country’s borders were pushed 150 miles to the west. Immediately following the war there were an estimated 5 million displaced Polish citizens remaining outside the country’s borders, creating logistical havoc. Furthermore, with the approximate 3.2 million Polish Jews killed during the Holocaust, coupled with the new territory gained, Poland was also ethnically homogenous for the first time, with roughly 90% of the population consisting of Roman Catholics.[1] During this period of an evolving Poland, the country’s largest pogrom took place on July 4th, 1946 in the southeastern town of Kielce.[2] The pogrom signified the extremely high tensions between the Jewish ethnic minority in Poland and the Catholic majority. The political uncertainty and ethnic conflicts provided a basis for aggression in Kielce, but also revealed greater political and moral implications. These implications include politically the Polish Communist Party holding culpability for the events, while the local Catholic church bore the moral responsibility.

The pogrom took place after Henryk Blaszczyk, an 8 year-old boy, left home for two days to pick cherries at a friend’s house without telling his father he was leaving home. That night Walenty, the boy’s father, drunkenly walked to the police station to report his son missing. The police recognized he was inebriated and asked that he return in the morning to file a report if Henryk was still missing. However, that next morning the son returned and clearly was not kidnapped, but the father still went and reported to the police that Jews abducted him with plans of blood libeling him.[3]  Soon after filing the report, police began walking to 7 Planty Street, the apartment building of the accused kidnappers, where 180 Jews lived. As the police walked, they shouted out that Jews had killed a Christian child and a crowd gathered. The police then, with the shouting support of the crowd, entered the building and began throwing Jews into the street. These events were just the beginning of what led to a full out riot, which murdered roughly forty two Jews and injured as many as eighty other men, woman, and children.[4] Looking at the pogrom with a narrow lens makes it seem that the events were nothing more than a false accusation that led to mob mentality and chaos. In part this is true, but it fails to represent the bigger picture exposing the motivations and political agendas that were at work.

With regards to the small scale motivation, Poland after WWII was extremely anti-Semitic. Some common Polish proverbs from the time include “A German, a Jew, and the Devil — all children of one mother;” “A girlfriend’s word, a Jewish oath, both uncertain;” and “The Jew and the noble contrive to ruin the peasant.”[5] These common proverbs reveal a common motif that Jews were of a lower, untrustworthy status, even comparable to the Devil. However untruthful the perceptions of Jews amongst the general public actually were, it is extremely important to recognize that these perceptions were commonplace. The perception also continued into Polish literature, where the motif of Jews holding desired jobs reoccurred, such as innkeepers, tavern keepers, shopkeepers, craftsmen, or important merchants.[6] This perception existed within the minds of gentile Poles who believed strongly that Jews held all the well paying jobs, especially with regards to the growing Communist Party after WWII. However, it is prudent to point out that during the era Jews in general were struggling to make ends meet, as revealed by the harsh living conditions within the apartment building of 7 Planty Street itself.[7]

Widespread anti-Semitism throughout ethnically homogenous Catholic Poland quickly made its way to political agendas too. When the war ended, Poland was in the midst of two political ideologies vying for authority. The Soviets, who played the largest role in liberating Poland from Germany, signed the Polish-Soviet treaty of 1945 solidifying the new western boarder of Poland and giving 70,000 square acres to the Soviets.[8] This act, coupled with the Soviet occupation within Poland at the end of the war, began the installation of a Communist government backed by Moscow. Two political groups controlled the political arena in 1946, those members of the Polish Communist Party (PPR) and the Polish Peoples Party (PSL). Both groups used anti-Semitic tactics to further advocate their acceptance by the majority, but often in very different ways.

During the lead up to the pogrom the Polish Communist Party was working to gain legitimacy. The Soviets wanted Poland under their sphere of influence to create a buffer zone between them and the eastern European states, primarily Germany. On June 30th, 1946 the PPR held the Trzy Razy Tak (Three Times Yes) referendum, whereby Polish citizens could vote on matters of parliamentary structure, land reform, the nationalization of industry, and the incorporation of Western territories into the Polish state. The results were faked to meet the aims of the PPR takeover, but the Polish Peoples Party responded vehemently with protests.[9] Opponents of the PPR, such as the US ambassador in Poland Arthur Bliss Lane, later argued that the poor publicity immediately following the referendum pushed the Communist Party to then instigate the July 4th pogrom in order to divert media coverage to the harsh anti-Semitism in Poland.[10]

Other sources that point to the PPR using the pogrom to overshadow the referendum attested to the use of the Security Police (UB) during the events. The UB acted as a Communist police force that oversaw the regular police called the Citizens Militia (MO). It was around 10:30 am when the UB entered the scene at 7 Planty street and called off the search of the building by the Citizens Militia. Upon their arrival, they also brought a small military detachment to help keep order on the streets with the rising tensions in the crowd. However, the military detachments under UB direction actually entered the apartment building and began killing the Jews and plundering their possessions.[11] Later, when the heads of both the UB and MO were questioned in court, the head of the UB admitted that he had jurisdiction because the event was a “political provocation.”[12] This implies that he knew of the events and was ordered through the PPR not to interfere. Another critic was Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, who accused UB police officer Major Sobczynski of attempting to order foundry workers to gather in the market square and then have his operatives shout that the Jews were killing Polish children at 7 Planty Street. Mikolajczyk believed he attempted this to “add to the terror of the times” and divert attention away from the referendum.[13]

Critics of the PSL on the other hand make the argument that the Kielce Pogrom was actually a useful tool manipulated after the events by Stanislaw Mikolajczyk to push his own political agenda as head of the PSL. Through the main newspaper of the PSL, Mikolajczyk argued that Poles, not Jews, were the true victims of the Kielce Pogrom because Jews were the “chief executors of the Communist regime.”[14] In other words, he believed in what is called Zydokomuna, or the idea that the rise of communism in Poland was a result of Jews returning from hiding in the Soviet Union during WWII.[15] This belief is how the members of the PSL were able to adapt the image of Jews in Poland to meet their political needs.

Politically and legally the broader implications are seen within the Polish Communist Party, the police and military forces, the Polish Peoples Party, and the anti-Semitic gentile Poles at large, but recognizing moral culpability is also important. The Roman Catholic clergy was most notably absent during the Kielce Pogrom and therefore shoulder the weight of moral responsibility. Cardinal August Hlond and the rest of the clergy the Sunday following the Pogrom were issued a statement to read without commentary, whereby they condemned murder of all kind, but never acknowledged the severely racist and anti-Semitic pogrom of Catholics upon Jews; in fact, it only mentioned the word Jew once.[16] Even during the actual events, two Catholic priests, Jan Danielewicz and Roman Zelek, never even attempted to quell the rioters who were at 7 Planty participating in the pogrom.[17] The Polish citizens would have likely responded to the priests as in a similar event in Czestochowa where a “quick thinking priest stood up and branded the shouting as a provocation,” narrowly adverting another pogrom.[18] The Church as a whole did not definitively act against anti-Semitism after the pogrom and failed to take action when necessary.[19]

The broader implications from the Kielce Pogrom extend past the political and moral sphere as well. Even as late as 1987, Polish citizens who took part in the pogrom had trouble defining the events, the political backers, or the causes. The anti-Semitism of the gentile Poles even showed 40 years later in interviews through backhanded comments and stereotypical assumptions. The Jews that survived displayed noticeable fear in the interviews, while many of those who witnessed the atrocities still felt it was the Jews fault they were attacked. Furthermore, the fear of some that they might be accused of being Jewish was even more frightful, because in their minds they could have been beaten or killed for no reason.[20] This concept suggests that even many years later gentile Poles are unable to see how utterly unjustified the Kielce Pogrom really was as a means of achieving anterior motives.

The chaos that was post war Poland resulted in a harsh and unwelcoming climate for returning Jewish misplaced persons. Furthermore, the competing political agendas between the PPR and PSL used the minority Jewish population as a tool towards advancing their ideologies. They both tried to capitalize on the widespread existing anti-Semitism to manipulate Polish citizens. During the course of the pogrom, failure of the police forces to manage their subordinates coupled with the failure of the Catholic priests to dispel violence led to the largest pogrom in Polish history.

 

 

Bibliography

Anna Williams, “The Kielce Pogrom,” UCSB Department of History,             http://www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/holocaust/Resources/the_kielce_pogrom.htm             (accessed October 4, 2011).

Bliss Lane, Arthur.  I Saw Poland Betrayed: An American Ambassador Reports To The     American People. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948.

Bozena Szaynok, “The Kielce Pogrom,” Jewish Virtual Library,             http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Kielce.html (accessed October 4,    2011).

Checinski, Michael. Poland: Communism, Nationalism, and Anti-Semitism. New York: Karz-       Cohl Publishing, 1982.

Gross, Jan T. Fear: Anti- Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz, An Essay in Historical          Interpretation. New York: Random House, 2006.

Hertz,  Aleksander. The Jews in Polish Culture. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press,      1988.

Lozinski, Marcel. Witnesses: Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1946. DVD. Produced by Gerard de           Verizier. 1987.

Michlic Beata, Joanna. Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of The Jew from 1880 to the          Present. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

Mikolajczyk, Stanislaw. The Rape Of Poland: Pattern of Soviet Aggression. New York:     McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1948.

Platform Against Antisemitsim and For Emancipation, “Kielce Pogrom, July 4, 1946,” Contested             Terrain, http://contested-terrain.net/kielce-pogrom-july-4-1946/ (accessed October 4,           2011).

Ringelblum, Emmanuel. Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War. Evanston, IL:      Northwestern University Press, 1992.

Schatz, Jaff. The Generation: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Communists of Poland. Berkeley     and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Pogroms,” Holocaust Encyclopedia.             http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005366 (accessed October 4,       2011).

 



  [1]  Jaff Schatz, Generation: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Communists of Poland (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991), 199-202.

  [2]  Holocaust Encyclopedia, “Pogroms,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005366 (accessed November 13, 2011).

  [3]  Blood libel is a false accusation that Jews murder gentile children and use their blood to mix into the baking of matzo bread. The fact that he chose 7 Planty, the location of the pogrom, is also not unusual because only 8 months prior to the pogrom a grenade was thrown into the building as an anti-Semitic attack.

  [4]  Jan T. Gross, Fear: Anti- Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz, An Essay in Historical Interpretation (New York: Random House, 2006), 83-84, 93.

  [5]  Aleksander Hertz, The Jews in Polish Culture (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988), 200.

  [6]  Hertz, Polish Culture, 217.

[7]  Marcel Lozinksi, Witnesses: Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1946, DVD, prod. Gerard de Verbizier (1987).

[8]  Schatz, Generation, 200.

[9]  Schatz, Generation, 205.

[10] Arthur Bliss Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed: An American Ambassador Reports To The American People (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948), 249. Bliss Lane was so politically in opposition to the Soviet takeover in Poland that he actually resigned from being the U.S. ambassador to Poland.

[11]  Gross, Fear, 88.

[12]  Gross, Fear, 95.

[13]  Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, The Rape of Poland: Pattern of Soviet Aggression (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1948), 167. It is important to note that as the head of the Polish Peoples Party, he was staunchly opposed to Communist control and his book was clearly biased against the PPR.

  [14]  Joanna Beata Michlic, Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of The Jew from 1880 to the Present (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006), 235-237.

  [15]  Gross, Fear, 192-193.

  [16]  Gross, Fear, 136-138.

  [17]  Gross, Fear, 135-136.

  [18]  Mikolajczyk, Rape of Poland, 167.

[19]  Bliss Lane, Poland Betrayed, 249.

[20]  Marcel Lozinksi, Witnesses: Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1946, DVD, prod. Gerard de Verbizier (1987).

Ten Minute Kielce Presentation

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ9aPBTBqhA[/youtube]

Next Page »