1. Quotations of the Day:
The Holy Bible
(Proverbs 29:18 ESV):
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
(Judges 21:25 ESV):
In those days there was no king in Israel.
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
(Proverbs 18:12 HCSB):
Before his downfall a man's heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor.
2. In the last 200 years, China misses opportunity after opportunities for reform.
I believe the current leadership in Beijing has done no better.
Why is that so?
I do not believe there is a lack of people who wants to see China changes for the better.
Many have laid down their lives to that end.
I believe the fundamental problems are a lack of vision, an incorrect assessment of human nature, and a consequential lack of appreciation for ethics and laws.
The followings will focus on a lack of vision.
3. The Preamble to The Constitution of the United States of America (1787):
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The Preamble expresses and is grounded in a set of fundamental values.
In the Preamble, the people of the United States are lifted up to a vision of a more perfect union, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the blessings of liberty.
There is no corresponding vision in the Preamble to The Constitution of the People's Republic of China (2004).
The Preamble to the Chinese Constitution is a partisan document touting "the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought".
I believe it is this lack of vision that makes China misses opportunity after opportunities for reform.
To reform is to change in a certain direction.
A vision provides the goal or direction for change and the reforms are means to the end of that vision.
Without vision the people cast off restraint; without vision everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Without vision, the policies and decisions of the Chinese Government are just a series of maneuvers to gain strategic and tactical advantages in the political, economics, and military arenas.
4. The two main constraints and drivers for recent historical changes are human nature and the power of a free market.
It is human nature to have material needs and wants and it is a free market that is the most efficient vehicle to deliver those material needs and wants.
A free market is most efficient because in a free market only the fittest survive.
One way to read recent world history is to read it as a series of events to align the world's political and economics systems with the existence of a free market.
Because of the underlying human needs and wants for material things, market forces became one of the main driver for historical changes.
But not all political and economic systems with their underlying values are compatible with the existence of a free market.
From this perspective, the main question for recent world history is:
What political forms and value systems are compatible with a free market?
[Free Market] <==> (compatible with) [Political Form?] + [Value System?]
5. Arnold J. Toynbee (1889 - 1975) famously analyzed the genesis, growth, breakdown and disintegration of civilizations in terms of challenge and response.
The challenges for contemporary civilizations are the challenges of modernity and the main challenge of modernity is the challenge of alignment of political forms and value systems with the existence of free markets.
(a) Western European nations were the first ones to step over the threshold of modernity.
The political form of Western Europe (i.e. democracy) and its underlying value system (i.e. Reformation and Enlightenment) have basically made peace with the existence of free markets.
[Free Market] <==> (compatible with) [Democracy] + [Reformation and Enlightenment]
(b) Religion is a source of values and the challenge for contemporary Islamic countries is to find a political form that is compatible with itself and a free market:
[Free Market] + [Islam] <==> (compatible with) [Political Form?]
We are witnessing the birth pains of Islamic countries in search of a political system that is compatible with itself and the existence of free markets.
(c) The challenge for the Communist Party of China is different from Islamic countries in that it is in search of a value system that is compatible with itself and a free market:
[Free Market] + [Totalitarian Government] <==> (compatible with) [Value System?]
China has tried to revive some form of Confucianism as its value system but it has been to no avail.
But the more basic problem is that a free market is fundamentally incompatible with totalitarianism.
The totalitarianism of China is political in nature -- everything is interpret in terms of politics and is done in service to politics.
In pride the totalitarians think that even a free market will be subject to their control and manipulation and will bow its head to politics.
In the last few months, we have witnessed the consequences of what happened when the Chinese government tried to control the stock market through administrative means.
6. In the last 200 years, China misses opportunity after opportunities for reform and it is continuing to do so.
A fundamental problem is a lack of vision for China.
The Communist Party of China lacks a vision for China because it has always put its self-interest over the national interest of China: its highest priority has always been its own continuing grip on power.
The early years of reform under Deng Xiaoping (1904 - 1997) saw the interests of China and the interests of the Communist Party of China more or less coincide.
But the divergence between the two interests became apparent after the events of 1989 Tiananmen Square.
China became a member of WTO (World Trade Organization) in December, 2001 and that membership has bought China another 15 years for implementing reforms.
Internal party politics and not implementing many of the WTO requirements (or blocking them through administrative means) have squandered this window of opportunity.
Without a vision to guide them, the policies and decisions of China are reduced to strategic and tactical maneuvers to gain temporary or short-term advantages.
The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that was drafted last Monday (October 5, 2015) signaled the coming to an end of the comparative economic advantage China has gained under the WTO.
If China does not seriously implement reforms, then eventually its choice will be limited to taking a big left turn politically.
There are many indications that the change in political direction has been underway.
To insure its own survival and with the concentration of power under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China may take a very big left turn yet.
But that is not in the national interest of China.
May God bless China and her people.
"Preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (2004)", npc.gov.cn,