The article says "a massive effort to distract its citizens from bad news and sensitive political debates" but of course that's just one angle. The local perspective is seeing it mostly as an effort by the government to try to moderate sensationalism, things getting spun out of proportion and down right fabrications (ie. US-TV news, Buzzfeed et al)
They see our CNN having some 24hr coverage of a kitten stuck in a tree - which they will not stop till either half the nation is foaming at the mouth with rage at the government's incompetence or it just becomes too absurd to keep up - and they are understandably horrified
The Chinese are constantly brainwashed to believe that yes, it's true, China is a dictatorship and other countries aren't (this fact cannot be totally hidden no matter how much their firewall tries to block keywords like 'democracy') ... but that's not really a problem and democracy vs dictatorship are just two different styles with neither being better than the other. China has dictatorship and America has democracy but that's fine because China's needs are different, etc.
Any student of international history knows full well that this viewpoint is complete crap. The track record of totalitarian dictatorships is awful. But don't underestimate the power of total information control to warp and distort people's minds. I've encountered a Chinese person who believed they are well educated and understood the West well, and then came out with ridiculous statements like "people in the west have to wait a week for emergency medical care" as justification for why a "paternal" government is not so bad really.
The local perspective of Chinese people is essentially worthless for judging what's actually going on in China. They are fed a constant diet of lies, and unlike in other parts of the world their access to organised debunking of those lies is severely restricted. They can't even judge what's going on by measuring the opinion of those around them because the government subtly distorts that too (as seen by this article).
Clearly, the Communist government is not without its own problems, e.g. the Cultural Revolution, which I'm not trying to diminish in any way. Some of those (like the Cultural Revolution) are seen as a failure of government which the current government tries very hard not to repeat. Some (censorship, general political repression) are accepted, either as necessary or unfortunate but tolerable.
Clearly, you can make the argument that China would be doing even better under a good democratic government. I'd be pretty receptive to that argument personally. But it's pretty hard to convince people that they should undergo a radical change in government, when the terrible effects of political upheaval are still fresh in people's memories, and the current regime has overseen such improvements. Throw in the ridiculous shit coming out of Western democracies at the moment (e.g. Trump) and that job gets even harder.
Edit: regarding the downvote, let me ask: if you had to be transplanted into the body of a Chinese person at some point in time, would you rather it be 1900, 1940, 1970, 2000, or today? From everything I know, I'd vote 2000 or "today" without hesitation, and not just because of computers and smartphones.
The Chinese nationalism you talk about has strong roots in propaganda. Its the very purpose of propaganda.
Its also the same communist party which caused the great famine that are in power now. Different people, same party.
The amount of doublespeak in your writing makes me question if you really believe what you write. why are you defending propaganda?
All I'm saying is that part of the acceptance or even favor the typical Chinese person feels towards their government is because of this actual factual improvement.
I'm not sure what you find problematic here. Do you disagree with the existence of this vast improvement in people's lives? Do you agree with it, but think it somehow plays no part in people's opinions of the government?
When people can't openly express dissatisfaction and are censored and are subject to organised propaganda, then it's very hard to say.
Under the communist government peoples lives haven't improved: look at the great famine. So yes I disagree peoples lives have not improved because of communism in China.
You ask me to pick which era of government I would like to be under. But its all the same government using propaganda the same way.
So what if it is now improving the vast amount of peoples lives. What about the minority being tortued by it?
My conversations with Chinese people don't show a favour with the current government. But that's not much of an indicator, under the great famine, their was probably even more vast support for the
Government. That's the nature of propaganda.
You say China has improved under communism. Think what it could have achieved without it. Or look back even further at what it achieved as an empire.
The average Chinese persons life has improved from an absolutely horrific existence under communism to a slightly better one - might be more like what your saying.
As I said before, it's the same party as always. Until propaganda is removed and freedom of speech installed, public opinion is far from fact and the average Chinese persons quality of life is as much fiction as it is belief.
I'm not defending the Chinese government nor am I denying the role that propaganda plays in shaping public opinion there (as it does everywhere). But it is not only propaganda which does this. Life in China is much better compared to how it was in 1949, and part of the public's view of the government is due to that.
Portraying life as better now, is propaganda. Its a view that affirms the current government policies (even if you don't personally believe it).
Propaganda is very unique in China and communism. Mainly because it is unified, enforced, systematic and backed up with violence. The communist party have been in rule so long that they are experts in it and social engineering.
Taking any view on what the public think of its goverment, ain't easy or factual. It fraught in one of the most organised regimes of properganda in existence today.
You can't compare that to America, where you can openly disagree with the government.
Without fear of imprisonment in a work camp without trial.
Basically when you say things like life is better because peoples positive views support it - I hear nothing but the torture and oppression which supports that state. And that ain't improvement. Its propaganda and control.
I can understand that, and even agree with it to a degree. But most people don't. If they have food and shelter and schools for their kids (well, kid, since we're talking about China) and consumer electronics and whatever else, and they're allowed to go about their lives, they mostly don't care if you're not allowed to criticize the government. It's not like East Germany where a third of the population was a Stasi spy, or like the Stalinist USSR where a huge number of ordinary people were shipped off to prison camps.
You say "You can't compare that to America." Why do you say that? I am nowhere comparing anything to America.
You seem bound and determined to take what I say as an endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party, or as saying that freedom doesn't matter, or that life in China is just as good in every way as it is in a Western democracy. But all I'm saying is that life in China improved a lot since 1949 by many concrete measures, and this improvement helps form the Chinese public's opinion of their government.
We could go over the subtle points for a long time. I believe they mean far more than you might.
My overall point is more along the lines of this full scale propaganda really makes it hard to read peoples opinions of the government on quite a few levels. Perhaps that's not a fair direct retort to your development narrative. But they are connected.
I don't want to be to picky, but the great famine was caused by the government after 1949. May seem trivial now but.. I still see its effects.
The other problem with state control and censorship is you don't really know the level of what's going on. China has work camps without trial in regions far from where the person might live, offences are usually based around expressing dissent over policy. China also has a lot of snitches.. I was told that any one wearing the red armbands was one. And that's a lot of people. I know a lot of the government send young family members to study in places like new Zealand in case they start to lose favour.. So they have a way out.
Besisdes all these points China is a big place. Generalisations over public opinion and the importance of it are fairly misleading. Take Tibet for example, I doubt Tibetans have an improved opinion of the government.
I dont like disregarding your views but in all this dialogue I can't help thinking that your views in the context we are discussing - censorship - are legitimising and downplaying the problem of Hunan rights in China. The Chinese people have no voice and the kind of support you are giving the government by saying they are developing and represent the peoples views, seem to be the final nail in exstinguishing dissenters voices in China.
I doubt that is your intention but that's how it comes across and that's why I've been asking you to clarify.
I can't agree China has improved but that's a debate for how you define improve. For me improved in the context of China, doesn't mean shit if people can't express dissent. Its more like reinforcement.
Edited for typos.
Life expectency is higher.
Medicine is more available.
Wages are higher.
Quality of life is higher.
Those are concrete things. Can we measure them perfectly? No. But clearly things have improved in China over the past 60 years...
Wages and medicine: actually more inequality than ever.
Life expectancy: scraping the barrel.
These aren't concrete things. If they were we could, like you say, measure them properly. But even in the best conditions your anlysis would be linking your values to your methods.
My point: measuring stuff like this in a 60 year old regime based on self perpetuation and social control is not improvement its indoctrination.
For example: are wages higher by mean, mode or median.
Or more simply does less crime measure the improvement of a country. I can think of several pertinent examples of regimes and dictators who were quite sucsesfull with crime.
Higher life expectancy.. Well that's quite an easy one to improve when you stop starving everyone.
I'm not saying all my points are 100% kosher. I'm saying improvement is a very subjective term reaking of contradiction when not simplified or taken out of context.
If that's the only reason, then why is the quality of life so much better in China than in India, the world's largest democracy?
- Life expectancy at birth in China is 73.5 years; in India it is 64.4 years.
- The infant mortality rate is fifty per thousand in India, compared with just seventeen in China.
- The mortality rate for children under five is sixty-six per thousand for Indians and nineteen for the Chinese.
- Maternal mortality rate is 230 per 100,000 live births in India and thirty-eight in China.
- Only 66 percent of Indian children are immunized with triple vaccine (diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus), as opposed to 97 percent in China.
- The mean years of schooling in India were estimated to be 4.4 years, compared with 7.5 years in China.
- China’s adult literacy rate is 94 percent, compared with India’s 74 percent.
- India's literacy rate for women between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four is still not much above 80 percent, whereas in China it is 99 percent.
It was one example of many providing a point that statistics are misleading.
Especially in describing quality of life under a controlling reigeme. Yes some things improve in some way. No - that's not improvement.
Its like saying if you sent me to prison my life expectancy, security, and perhaps even literacy might improve. Would I count being in prison an improvement? No.
Not unless of course you think I'm guilty, incapable, and need controlling.
Somehow not seeing your family members starve or die in childbirth isn't an improvement if they don't have other things you deem important?
> Its like saying if you sent me to prison my life expectancy, security, and perhaps even literacy might improve. Would I count being in prison an improvement? No.
Let's say I consider this prison to be an improvement to me dying of hunger, then would you be able to accept my perspective? Or would you consider me brainwashed?
Just curious, but do you perceive living in China to be the same as living in North Korea?
Take your childbirth example: mortality rate may have improved. This statement is great without context – of course thats improvement right?
Now take the context of forced sterilisation and forced abortion by local corrupt government meeting birth quotas. Thats perspective.
What do you base your perspective on?
(In response to your question on N.Korea, I don't know anything about North Korea so of course not!)
>Let's say I consider this prison to be an improvement to me dying of hunger, then would you be able to accept my perspective? Or would you consider me brainwashed?
I would consider you in prison. I would also point out that the prison (government) created the great famine (that made you hungry). Do you really believe that is improvement?
I grew up extremely poor and despite being upper-middle class now, I know my past influences how I see things.
Also, my experience working in China and with other Mainland Chinese just paint a different picture than what people tend to see in the Western media. (I'll add that I made it a point to avoid the expat bubble, so perhaps my perspective there is different from other expats as well.)
> I would also point out that the prison (government) created the great famine (that made you hungry).
Just to clarify, the government that created the great famine (Mao) is very different than the one that started to feed the people (Deng)
In fact, the Mao tried to have Deng assassinated several times.
So yeah, I would say it's an improvement since the CCP is now saying the Cultural Revolution was wrong.
I guess I see it as progress. If you take a look at countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, all three were dictatorships until the 90s, when their quality of life improved enough for them to turn to democracies.
So I guess we'll just have to see where the Chinese people take themselves.
I think thats dangerous for China. People get tortured, killed and have no voice. Things may improve for the masses but if it isn't for the minority then its not really improvement.
Your last sentence:
"So I guess we'll just have to see where the Chinese people take themselves"
is the kind of subtle difference in semantics that divides us. You think China is ruled and directed by its people. Censorship, propaganda, history and injustice suggest otherwise.
The dangerous part is looking at the winners in Chinese society and saying - look! its improving! - whilst the losers are getting a tougher time as ever. You say you grew up extremely poor, so I feel like that might resonate with you.
I rephrase your last sentence as: so I guess we'll just have to see where the Chinese peoples totalitarian government take them.
A small matter of semantics, yet a matter of life and death.
I'm implying that I don't understand how his arguments flow - they seem self defeating. For the reasons outlined above. I don't mean it personally, and I don't really care if he is respected or not. I just wanna get to the bottom of why, how and what he is getting at. And from his writing style it seem I am led to doubt he doesn't really believe what he is implying. Of course, I might and probqly an wrong so would appreciate clarification.
The argument of: its not just propaganda, its also a reflection of development - doesn't wash with me.
And the whole thread is about controlling social media - particularly through controlling perception of public opinion.
Honest question, what do you think? Irony, conspiracy, time zone differences.
You mean like yourself here  where you are touting government propaganda?
The thing about propaganda is, the more one-sided a conversation becomes, the less interesting it is. There's no single viewpoint that can pretend to take two opposing sides of an argument. Good internet comments are succinct, point out flaws in other comments' arguments, and are on the minds of other readers. If a comment thread doesn't make me think, I lose interest.
Explain one country that I am in any way supporting the propaganda of.
If its because I am drawing attention to Taiwan not being fully recognised, as per our earlier thread. Then that is an assumption based in the fact of it being a non-un member. But I'm drawing attention to the type of corruption that let's countries (such as China and the UK) bully Taiwan.
Sound like a propaganda line?
Explain which country and how?
Can't believe you are lecturing on succinct arguments and at the same time calling my post propaganda without any reason.
Read your own post and apply it to yourself.
You said propaganda is an effective means of helping China gain international influence:
> Public opinion outside of China is very important for business and strategy. Present China as an improving progressive regime, smooth over its human rights problems, and china can gain more influence internationally. 
I disagree 100%. It's not effective and it hurts China's relations. Relationships are built on trust.
If by that you mean exposing it and its influence. Then yeah.. I hereby tout all government propaganda and always will do.
I wish international relations were built on trust. But that's a bollocks and idealised view.
My example of the UN membership is quite fitting. Small countries with no interest in Taiwan have been directly bribed by china to vote against letting Taiwan join. Call that trust?
Point out why and how this isn't true. Make a succinct argument, support your assertions.
Touting does not mean exposing. "Exposing" is used for facts.
It is your opinion that propaganda is an effective means of helping China gain international influence.
Over and over again in these threads you have defended Taiwan as a sovereign state. You keep thinking I am attacking Taiwan's status as an independent country. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am however pointing out how Taiwan isn't always recognised as a country.
Thats not my opinion, it is the opinion of many countries.. including the UN. Don't confuse it with my own opinion. These are the facts. It would be deluded to deny these facts. You could at very least provide evidence that says otherwise - you haven't.
Instead you have been deluded to the point of accusing me of touting propaganda for mentioning these things.
I do not think you are paid by the Chinese government to write these comments =)
If someone named Trevor argues that propaganda is an effective means of diplomacy, is Trevor part of the propaganda machine or not?
I would argue Trevor is part of that machine. A person can be part of an idea without being paid or asked to do it.
I believe you would argue that Trevor is not part of the machine. You would say Trevor is an outside observer and that he has no connections with it whatsoever. You might also say that I could be part of some machine of which I'm not aware, and I would accept that. I certainly am influenced by my environment.
> Taiwan isn't always recognised as a country. Thats not my opinion, it is the opinion of many countries.. including the UN
I said it's your opinion that China's propaganda helps its international influence. I did not mention Taiwan
It's fine that we disagree. Many nations do not recognize Taiwan as a country. That's a fact. It's also fact that Taiwan has its own directly elected government and does not pay taxes anywhere outside Taiwan. Both of these facts are educational.
I believe countries and the world benefit when all facts are shared. Chinese propaganda says that only some facts should be shared. Every time people outside China identify Chinese propaganda, it hurts China's stature internationally. Sure, plenty of people do business with China regardless. China could do heaps more business if it could stomach more facts once in awhile.
I don't believe you. I don't believe you can't see the difference between identifying propaganda and being part of it.
Your arguments are putting words in my mouth by using straw men like Trevor in a straw man argument: "propoganda is an effective means of diplomacy".
All I can see is some-one wriggling out of an argument where they begun by calling me out for making propoganda posts.
You can twist that statement and apply your own criteria to it, but it just isn't true: pointing out propaganda has nothing to do with being part of it. Infact its the very process that stops it. You can close your eyes and pretend it doesn't happen - but that wont make it go away.
I hope you have mis-read the entire thread but its looking more clear that you can't admit your wrong. Try starting with my first post.
I have stuck with this thread, because I thought - just perhaps - you genuinely didn't understand. I've simplified my position, now you can believe it or not. Its really not that interesting and has little to say about censorship anymore.
> I don't believe you. I don't believe you can't see the difference between identifying propaganda and being part of it.
For sure I can. You're doing more than identifying propaganda. You're saying it works. I'm saying that this is one of the messages pushed by propaganda/advertising.
I agree that it works until you're caught lying. Then it doesn't and you're discredited for a period. And, in the case of China, they lie so often that their propaganda does not work.
> Your arguments are putting words in my mouth by using straw men like Trevor in a straw man argument: "propoganda is an effective means of diplomacy".
Again, you said,
> Present China as an improving progressive regime, smooth over its human rights problems, and china can gain more influence internationally.
Again, I disagree 100%.
It's not a stretch to rewrite your above statement as "Propaganda is an effective means of diplomacy".
The definition of diplomacy is managing international relations. Those relations can be at any level, either between two citizens, two businesses, or two heads of state.
If English does not work, 你也可以用中文。
> You can close your eyes and pretend it doesn't happen - but that wont make it go away.
I'm not trying to make it go away. I think it's interesting to have a conversation with someone who has such a different point of view.
> I hope you have mis-read the entire thread but its looking more clear that you can't admit your wrong. Try starting with my first post.
One of the ideas perpetuated by advertising is that advertising is effective =). Unfortunately, we do not always know when advertising works because measuring the effectiveness of advertising is expensive.
Last I checked, I did not see any research published on the effectiveness of Chinese propaganda.
So, the question becomes, when people perpetuate ideas from advertising, are those people advertising or just expressing their views?
Who's right or wrong? There isn't a concrete answer.
> I have stuck with this thread, because I thought - just perhaps - you genuinely didn't understand. I've simplified my position, now you can believe it or not. Its really not that interesting and has little to say about censorship anymore.
No worries if you don't want to continue the discussion.
Take this account of propaganda in action:
'His village had become a ghost town, with fields dug bare of shoots and trees stripped of bark. For all his remorse and grief, he regarded the death as an individual family's tragedy: "I was 18 at the time and I only knew what the Communist party told me. Everyone was fooled," he says. "I was very red. I was on a propaganda team and I believed my father's death was a personal misfortune. I never thought it was the government's problem."'
Perhaps you should check again for research on effectiveness of Chinese propoganda:
try a google scholar search, this one came up quite quickly:
China's Propaganda System: Institutions, Processes and Efficacy
The China Journal
No. 57 (Jan., 2007), pp. 25-58
Or perhaps one about international propoganda:
"One option in particular is the use of information to adjust the public opinion of the Taiwanese people regarding unification. In order to achieve this goal, China has turned to its propaganda apparatus to exert its influence
over the Taiwanese media. China believes that by secretly seeping its message directly into Taiwan through its own local media, changes can take place from within giving more strength and credibility to the notion of unification. But is China’s strategy running according to plan? Recent trends in the national identity of the Taiwanese population might suggest otherwise. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze the patterns of the relationship between the pro-Beijing message of unification within the Taiwanese media and the trends of Taiwanese national identity in order to determine the efficacy of the propaganda’s influence as well as illustrate the possible implications of the findings'
From: Pro-Beijing Propaganda in Taiwanese Media Implications for the Future of Taiwan -China- U.S. Relations
To spell it out again: you aren't using the term propaganda as a word in anyway linked to its meaning. You have devised your own meaning with no grounding in its historic or contemporary use. I challenge you to find one other person who has ever use the word to describe what your are - failing that, perhaps put forward your own definition.
If identifying propoganda and the hidden agenda of someone is a form of propoganda. Then surely propoganda would be done openly and be formally introduced as propoganda - because that would help its claim. Propoganda is effective because people believe the lie and because the real agenda is kept hidden and secret - not because people expose it.
Advertising is not propoganda, but I will save that discussion for now.
I appreciate your balanced tone despite the obvious frustration that I am venting and don't mind letting you know I am feeling.
Can I ask you what your first language is?. I know thats personal, so don't answer if you don't want. I just feel like the cause of this misunderstanding might be that you have different core definitions for words than I do. Your definition of diplomacy as a form of management - for example.
Sure, it's English. I do not consider that to be private information
I also speak Chinese and you can use that too if you like.
> I appreciate your balanced tone despite the obvious frustration that I am venting and don't mind letting you know I am feeling.
> But is China’s strategy running according to plan? Recent trends in the national identity of the Taiwanese population might suggest otherwise
That's a great example of international propaganda failing to work in China's favor
> Advertising is not propoganda, but I will save that discussion for now.
Propaganda is a form of advertising.
>That's a great example of international propaganda failing to work in China's favor
I'm still waiting for your definition of propaganda.
You've led me to believe that your interpretation is that every-time the journal article finds propaganda to have some influence then the journal article itself is taking part in propaganda and every time it doesn't find propaganda at work it is not.
Is that what you mean?
> You've led me to believe that your interpretation is that every-time the journal article finds propaganda to have some influence then the journal article itself is taking part in propaganda and every time it doesn't find propaganda at work it is not. Is that what you mean?
Yes that's almost it. I would rewrite to say either (1) "when an article espouses propaganda, it becomes part of the propaganda machine itself", or (2) "when an article touts propaganda, it has an underlying tinge of propaganda".
This post is about how government workers in China produce fake social media. It is not about the quality of China's economy.
I'm just illustrating its perceived benefits. While we as a country have a national freak-out and foam at the mouth because we saw a nipple during the super bowl - some people might see that are media manipulation of mass psychology
When it comes to politics they're obviously using it for their own benefit, keeping their people in the dark and trying to rob the country as much as possible without being too obnoxious about it. These things are completely obvious to any outside observer and it's not interesting to just repeat them ad nauseum. I find it much more interesting to think that the censorship lets them say... contain hysteria about terrorism after the attacks in Xinjiang, or stop the whole place from turning into a crazy anti Japanese riot when some PM decides to go visit Yasukuni.
Then you can stop and think "Oh okay.. I can see how they can end up thinking it's a good thing..." B/c at face-value it makes no sense for them to put with it
One of this most insidious things about totalitarian states is people self censer to the degree it's hard to know what they actually feel.
One example I think most people on HN may see is how people talk about work. It's really rare for people with white collar jobs to admit they hate their job. Sometimes it's years after they quit before someone will say they hated a job.
"Rather than embrace lawyers, writers, and whistleblowers as allies in an effort to deal effectively with rising social unrest, the government remains hostile to criticism. The government targets activists and their family members for harassment, arbitrary detention, legally baseless imprisonment, torture, and denial of access to adequate medical treatment. It has also significantly narrowed space for the press and the Internet, further limiting opportunities for citizens to press for much-needed reforms."
Specifically on Xinjiang:
"Following the Urumqi attack, the Chinese government announced a year-long anti-terrorism crackdown in Xinjiang. Within the first month, police arrested 380 suspects and tried more than 300 for terror-related offenses. Authorities also convened thousands of people for the public sentencing of dozens of those tried. In August, authorities executed three Uighurs who were convicted of orchestrating an attack in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October 2013. Fair trial rights remain a grave concern given the lack of independent information about the cases, the government’s insistence on expedited procedures, the fact that terror suspects can be held without legal counsel for months under Chinese law, and China’s record of police torture.
While there is reason for the government’s concern with violence, discriminatory and repressive minority policies only exacerbate the problem. In January, police took into custody Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur professor at Beijing’s Minzu University critical of the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy. Tohti remains detained and is charged with “separatism,” which can result in life imprisonment. In August, Uighur linguist Abduweli Ayup was given an 18-month sentence for “illegal fundraising” after trying to raise money for Uighur-language schools."
Sources: Human rights watch: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/china...
and again: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/china...
It appears these sources are blocked in China. Source: http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org/
When attacks happend in Western World, Chinese never said, 'They are not terrorist. They are just part of muslims who fight for their rights while western people persecutes them.' All the world should have sympathy for each other agasint terrorism.
I was posting about the Chinese government response. The way they handled the problem. At no point is anyone denying the attack.
>All the world should have sympathy for each other agasint terrorism.
Really? I find that naive - if terrorism has taught us anything, it is that all the world should be deeply critical oh how any country responds to terrorism.
Try talking to some Falun Gong, anyone in Tibet, family of those killed in accidents such as the Tianjin chemical explosion, or family of victims of police violence.
These people have no voice and no peace. They can only look forward to dark prisons if they speak up.
We need to be careful about the stones we throw.
Many American politicians have been quite receptive to the BLM movement.
China, on the other hand, regularly imprisons protesters indefinitely.
Oh, so I guess institutionalized racism has been eliminated from the country. I never got the memo.
Government officials in China are not chosen by the people. The "People's" republic is a farce. Those who disagree with policy are expelled or imprisoned. BLM may be ignored and discounted by some, but they have a voice and can effect change. Tibetans, people of Xianjiang, Falun Gong, and countless other would-be activists have no such path in China.
The local perspective you present, is a good example of a perspective which sounds like it endorses government activity but also identifies it as a case of government suppression. It says noting as a personal opinion.
I'm not sure that Chinese people are "understandably" horrified at CNN. I actually think theres a big cultural gap in understanding between both countries, perpetuated part by both governments.
Either way, its government propaganda of news set against a backdrop of fear and conformity. That means that the very idea of presenting a 'local perspective' is one intimately linked to government control. Its nothing to do with kittens on CNN.
You don't outright say it, but the way you wrote this seems to be saying that government controlled news ain't that bad compared with CNNs 24hr coverage of kittens. What do you think, personally?
would that be censored? how about if the facts underlying a case are seen to provoke something like racism - is it then legitimate to change the facts or censor them to the public.
"If the government or the law making process can be considered as an emanation of the citizen, it becomes legitimate for them to control the public expiration to some extent"
Unbelievable paradoxical statement: Starts with an If.. Ends with a vague to some extent.. and sticks the massive assumption of "it becomes legitimate for them to control the public expiration" - Why? Why is that legitimate?.
Perhaps in a democracy you might very carefully start to make such conclusions, but the Chinese people don't pick their government. There only chance of change is rebellion. Perhaps thats why news is suppressed?
Please, elaborate your statement - in laymans terms if possible, as I find the semantics in your statements quite difficult to follow.
I personally think it is dangerous and often useless, but some other people may have different priorities. Then the problem is the legitimacy of the government. This is obvious in China for the cpc but I would not say they are completely illegitimate. And our western governments are not always legit either.
So you really want me to explain why people should have free speech, at this level of debate, it is unbelievable you could ask - why not?
Let me give you the big why not: because your opinion right now is free speech on a forum of free speech.
Please don't back pedal and say your just talking about dangerous hate inducing free speech. Because we both know that isn't the case. The context is a government which has always tortured dissenters. A government which drove tanks over peaceful protesters.
A government based on the notion of rebellion not reform, which is doing everything humanly possible to stop rebellion ever happening again. That's the communist paradox. That's the ultimate source of propaganda.
Well people for the most part are pretty a-political. When you don't have 24/7 coverage of clowns running for president people don't really have it at the front of their minds. And while in the west we have very little agency when it comes to political affairs, here of course it's basically non existent. So people while there are strange/strong opinions on Russia, Taiwan, the US, islands in the Pacific, no one is foaming at the mouth - and in terms of priorities it's all somewhere slightly below the latest NBA results.
With regards to censorship I think it's an interesting perspective - that's all. I try not to judge it too much. I prefer the chaos of the western media where you can find nuggets of gold in the piles of clickbait trash. I'd love for them to get there in the long term ofcourse, but I guess i can see how horrifying it must seem to them to have that in a very rumor prone under-educated society of over a billion people. I'm very hopeful for the coming generation. They seem incredibly educated (they learn calculus in middle school!!) and openminded. But looking from here at places like Pakistan and Egypt where rumors and completely fantastical ideas about the US, government conspiracies etc. etc. are the norm - that seems a lot more frightening. I mean even Americans are prone to some fantastical thinking (I remember asking at a hostel "who believes 9/11 was a conspiracy?" - I think 6 out of 7 people did . The one guy who didn't was part Israeli. here is a depressing read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polls_about_9/11_consp...)
Barring the dis-functionality angle, the psychology/sociology of it is interesting. It's sorta like cocacola ads, (no one thinking it really affects them) no one really think they consume "trashy" media, but we acknowledge that as a society we are consuming a ton of it. So if you were to not have black and white view on civil liberties (I mean it's already an autocratic government, why not make the most of it haha ) at first blush it seems kinda reasonable to say "hey, why don't we just cut out this crap and only show the BBC, PBS and some quality historical documentaries? That way people will stop wasting their time having aneurysms over total garbage" (if you think about the collect man hours spent watching something like Pawn Stars it's pretty depressing)
To be clear the censorship hasn't gone as far as cutting out crappy TV shows or anything like that (though the new anti-video game stuff seems to suggest they're moving in that direction). But stamping out rumors and media sensationalism is definitely going on (along with completely legitimate news that people should be aware of that paints the wrong people in a bad light).
And yeah, there are totally skewed perceptions of the west here - for sure. And they have their own garbage feed by the government. It's shocking at times. A good friend was telling me that China should make a stronger case internationally for "retaking" Siberia. I'm kinda trying to do my part in bridging the divide and bring maybe a window into the way people are thinking (or not thinking!) about these things here. It's not just a bunch of brainwashed commies that have no idea what's going on in the outside world - it's more nuanced than that and has it's own self consistent logic to it. It might not be the ideal, it may be worse than our system, but it is what it is and it doesn't hurt to appreciate it
In my experience China is a very peaceful and safe country.
I also see the darker underside: take Tiananmen Square for example.
I get annoyed by debates that say something like.. well China is bad but so is the USA and x and y and z country. Sometimes comparisons can legitimise some horrific practices and make them seem OK. They aren't.
I'd disagree on your assertion that censorship hasn't gone to far. Mainly because the censorship is part of a bigger context of fear and control, not culturally comparable to the US and its government. For example: I know someone from China (who doesn't live there anymore), and cannot admit Tiananmen Square happened. It runs deep.
I mean, we already know that China is both governmentally AND culturally OK with pervasive deceit:
Lying is, and should be, universally reviled.
I'm not condoning their censorship. Yeah, obviously it leads to the government twisting the truth to toot it's own horn. On the political side of things its terrible
One of my opinions is that when the world breaks out into a global slaugtherfest like WW2, it becomes essential for the survivors to research the causes of such an event with the explicit goal of of ensuring that it won't happen again. As far as I have seen, not a single society anywhere has done this, rather, we have minutes of silence to remember those who took part in the heroic massacre. I would not kid myself that I wouldn't also torture and kill if I was placed in a horrible enough environment, so I have put explicit effort into reading the works of Khaneman and others. Milgram's Experiment, Stanford prison experiment, etc. I was watching a fire start in a bin outside our library the other day, counting all the people walking by as smoke came out, some of them throwing rubbish in and walking off. Fortunately I'd read about bystander apathy so I just went and told someone and they put it out.
The "moderating sensationalism" view is clearly wrong when one looks at the list of search items blocked. Let's see... Top result for Tiananmen massacre in Mandarin produces no results (六四), in English, the top result is "Tiananmen massacre a myth". How can China become a better place when it's people are forbidden from even researching such events?
Another fascinating delusion in China is the distinction between "Chinese" and "foreigner", and then perhaps "Japanese" will be refereed to separately, because fuck Japan. It's quite difficult to explain. In their minds (this is all "statistically speaking" of course", everyone takes on the "Chinese" or "foreigner" label and thus they take on distinct beliefs and behaviours associated with them. It's not trivial racism or anything, actually, they are typically more polite to "foreigners", which they call me even in my home country. One of the scary things that comes from this is the hard wired belief that "Taiwan is China", despite being and separated and independent for 70 years. I have tried explaining this very carefully to many Chinese, and they will understand each point individually, but at the end of the discussion they say "but Taiwan is China!" and continue on with their insanity. Meanwhile Taiwan has the day to day trouble of trying not to be massacred by China wanting to "save" them and "bring them back" (actually things I've heard from Chinese). It is as if one had a ex that still believed they were together and the only thing stopping them from rape was the lingering threat of getting beating up by the slightly less deranged partner (the USA). Of course, Chinese people happily assure me that China would never use force in resolving this. Actually, the official stance says they would only use force if Taiwan officially claimed independence, and the idea of Taiwan actually being independent is unpalatable, so everything is fine. So in summary, I have zero confidence when Chinese people assure me this censorship is all for the greater good.
Orwell's essay on freedom of the press (which was edited out of the first edition): http://home.iprimus.com.au/korob/Orwell.html
Perceptions do not change reality. Taiwan has free press and their own directly elected government.
Also, many people in China do know that Taiwan is its own country. No tax dollars are going to Beijing from Taiwan. Taiwan is completely sovereign.
They couldn't even support Taiwan as a country politically because China bribed and bullied other countries to disagree with recognising Taiwan.
Hong Kongs a different case but shows how international support can be subdued by China.
Taiwan is a reality. Its growing military force supports this too. I don't think and I hope China would never invade.
I totally agree Taiwan is a country. But internationally this isn't often recognised and might give an invasion more clout. Ukraine/russia springs to mind as a similar scenario. Not the Ukraine weren't a country but that they didn't have enough international presence for anyone to properly back them up, when invaded.
China does not have any reason to invade Taiwan. Taiwan is a peaceful nation. The people of Taiwan identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese. Taiwan is very different from the other areas you mention.
Taiwan isn't recognised internationally as a country (not fully). If China did have a reason to invade (not a crazy idea given the history) then the international response may be very lacking.
Either way, China has and does continue to try and make Taiwan powerless as in independent country. Its been fairly successful in this respect.
> If China did have a reason to invade (not a crazy idea given the history)
These two statements are in direct conflict with each other. Agree to disagree
> Either way, China has and does continue to try and make Taiwan powerless as in independent country. Its been fairly successful in this respect.
Taiwan definitely has power. It takes strength to create your own territory and government. It also takes strength for the people to elect an entirely new party into office, which just happened in Taiwan.
It's not just about who has a bigger military or more allies. There are many more variables.
Despite Chinese propaganda, many people in China and elsewhere in the world do know that Taiwan is its own country and is not part of China.
Its not a contradiction to say at the moment China doesn't have much reason to invade - but also point they have had reason before and may again. Let me put it better: they have a latent reason. As someone pointed out in this thread If Taiwan asserts its independence, Chinese have not officially ruled out an invasion. I also know this isn't the reality of current climate.
I agree Taiwan has power, and power has a lot of variables. Being a non-member state of the UN, because of China bribing other states, shows that this power has been shaped by China to some extent. Not having official embassies in many countries - shows the same thing.
People do know Taiwan is a country not part of China. But they don't always officially recognise that.
Combine this quasi-international presence with an invasion and your idea of Taiwan's power variables might shift to being based on the size of its military and its official international recognition. thats where ukraine and hong kong are relevant - to an extent.
The Taiwanese military is bigger than ever, so I think theres at least a little relevance in all this. Not relevance that theres gonna be an invasion, but relevance of the latent power plays that effect diplomatic relations.
You're certainly free to express your opinion. I disagree with your thesis that China might invade and that the world will stand by and watch.
Government workers in China produce fake social media. That only influences so much inside China, and it changes nothing outside of China.
Present China as an improving progressive regime, smooth over its human rights problems, and china can gain more influence internationally. If you are dealing with China, keeping one eye closed can be very profitable.
The UK gave Hong Kong back to China, regardless of what people living in Hong Kong wanted. They are now heavily mutually invested underwriting loans for nuclear powerplants: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-34306997
In case of invasion, this kind of thing makes a big difference. Invasion aside it continues to shape Taiwans influence - why do you think Taiwan is not a UN member state and China is?
You seem to hold government propaganda in very high esteem. I do not. I believe that free press leads to the strongest economic powerhouses. You get the best of a population when you allow them all to contribute to it.
Giving a bigger mouthpiece to a few people via authoritarian propaganda machines only sows discontent. Sooner or later, that discontent grows up, and rather than becoming productive, creative members of society, those people are imprisoned. Plus, the government needs to spend energy to lock these folks up. It drains a country of its resources.
China would help itself so much more simply by being less oppressive.
It's more that in the west we just see it as this horrible evil thing and it seems completely bizarre that anyone would be okay with it. I guess we just assume they must put up with it when in fact they have their own rational for supporting it (which ultimately is flawed, but it's still very interesting)
Have you traveled to Taiwan? I went there a few weeks ago and I found it a fascinating place. While it's definitely got it's own identity it also is definitely very "Chinese". Like more "Chinese" than probably some provinces in the mainland. And on the mainland they get TV shows and stuff from Taiwan and people know where Taipei and Kunming are on a map. People look forward to visiting Kenting some day. Families are split between mainland and Taiwan etc. So I can sorta see why they look at it all and think it's all part of the same country. (kinda how we think Canadians are basically Americans) And you're right, they definitely have no idea about how it'd actually work haha and they definitely have a complete disregard for what the Taiwanese want (needs of the many > needs of the few I guess??). One thing I heard is them wanting to have a Hong Kong type of deal with Taiwan ... to which I said: "yeah right, over all their collective dead bodies"
The Taiwanese still consider themselves a part of Chinese culture, in fact, they actually feel that they are the true "practitioners" of Chinese culture because the Mainland Chinese went through the Cultural Revolution.
> kinda how we think Canadians are basically Americans
I think an even closer analogy would be between American Northerners vs. Southerners.
As in, after the Civil War each side considers themselves to be "more American."
The best way to explain it is this: If you ask a Taiwanese person to know the greatest works of art "his people" have created "in their history," then he will name works of art created in Mainland China, but authors and artists that lived and died in Mainland China.
It is definitely a horrible evil thing.
> I guess we just assume they must put up with it when in fact they have their own rational for supporting it
Yeah, if they don't support it, they go to prison.
> One thing I heard is them wanting to have a Hong Kong type of deal with Taiwan ...
Taiwan is 100% self-governed. Today is the first day of term for their fourth directly elected president.
Consider the United States. With our free and press how many Americans would agree that they are living on land stolen from Native Americans? Or that the acquisition of Hawaii was a clear act of imperialism?
"In 1945, following the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang (KMT), took control of Taiwan. In 1949, after losing control of mainland China in the Chinese Civil War, the ROC government under the KMT withdrew to Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law."
- From wiki's 'history of Taiwan'
(I'm not making a point, I just think this context is important to the discussion)
Regarding your questions at the end, I'd guess around half the American population would agree with those things. (You might have to explain what happened with Hawaii first, I don't know how common knowledge of that history is.) Certainly it's by no means universal, but lots of Americans do acknowledge our past (and even present) sins.
Answer is not to fight noise with noise, or to hide from reality because it's not Disney Land. There is no easy answer, but propaganda is the wrong answer.
Bad reviews on Glassdoor lead to faked good ones.
Bad reviews on Yelp lead to faked good ones.
Sometimes bad reviews are not fair or heavily exaggerated, sometimes bad reviews are from competitors. Bad reviews cannot be removed. Sometimes, faked good reviews is the only way to bring back a balanced view.
So, this seems to happen everywhere and to be the natural response of a self-regulating market. Means that we should be careful with user generated content in general, also users might have an hidden agenda.
Edit: Why the downvote? I am not saying that I like this, I just tried to find an explanation for a market behavior.
> Bad reviews on Amazon lead to faked good ones.
> Bad reviews on Glassdoor lead to faked good ones.
> Bad reviews on Yelp lead to faked good ones.
This is how books work: The authors or publishers get other authors to give them good reviews that appear on the book jacket. Nobody waits around for a bad review before lining up good reviews.
> Sometimes bad reviews are not fair or heavily exaggerated, sometimes bad reviews
> are from competitors. Bad reviews cannot be removed. Sometimes, faked good reviews
> is the only way to bring back a balanced view.
> So, this seems to happen everywhere and to be the natural response of a
> self-regulating market. Means that we should be careful with user generated
> content in general, also users might have an hidden agenda.
> Edit: Why the downvote? I am not saying that I like this, I just tried to find an
> explanation for a market behavior.
Try reframing your explanation as problems that need solving for these markets to thrive.
Take charities for example, they outperform welfare programs in terms of overhead efficiency because they have a name and a face in a market that cares more about reputation than profit.
And sadly, I'm leaning towards this myself, finding the amazon 5* reviews more and more useless - although the same goes for most 1* reviews as well, those are mostly angry costumers with a bad luck.
Better to have an option for a likeness score applied to reviewers as a filter.
Massive government subversion of communication channels through the injection of fake opinions is not natural and has nothing to do with markets.
> New and market-based media require a certain degree of liberalization, because market-based media need to cater towards audiences in order to make a profit and new communication technologies are faster than propaganda officials in spreading information. But this expanded social space places pressure on the authoritarian state. As a result, China is also constantly building up its capacity to control media, mostly through institutional infrastructures, in order to maintain a roughly uniform flow of political information. Therefore, China responds to the challenges posed by market-based and new media by both opening up social spaces in media while maintaining control through institutional mechanisms.
Exactly the same, now I consider it more.
Forgive the hyperbole, but I think it does the suffering caused by their regime a great disservice to compare it to sponsored ads.
And the US government would certainly never cause suffering, at home or abroad!
Companies that waste all their money on blog spam tend to get washed out of the system pretty fast by bankruptcy (unless they're spamming because they have no alternative e.g. generic viagra spammers). You do need some sort of actual valuable product to survive. And there are large, well organised efforts to combat spam on the internet. As for fake news, well, I'm unaware of any popular news sources that routinely mix real editorial content with fake articles. Sometimes you do get sponsored articles but they are labelled.
Whereas here, the Chinese government cannot go bankrupt - it will continue forever. The injected opinions are not labelled. And the goal is not to sell you some happy pills, it's to confuse and distract the population away from their own corruption and ineptitude.
Probably? How on earth do they reach this conclusion? Is this science?
> Although those who post comments are often rumored to be ordinary citizens, the researchers were surprised to find that nearly all the posts were written by workers at government agencies including tax and human resource departments, and at courts.
I'm surprised that the article paints a picture of factories where masses of chinese slave workers are producing cheap comments.
It's also very unlikely that they will have these kinds of sweatshops located at tax departments and courts.
Another simple explanation: As of 2009, 10 million people were civil servants within the Chinese government, and maybe, just maybe they are also sometimes bored at work and post cat pictures on the internet.
There has never been a single implementation of Socialism - including Communism and Fascism - that has delegated any power to the workers. It has always and will always be held by the party dictatorship. No property, including the means of production, is ever held by the workers, it is always controlled by the elite of the party dictatorship for the purpose of plundering profit and enslaving the workers. Which simultaneously explains the extreme poverty Socialism has produced every time it has been attempted.
The Free Territory and Catalonia were libertarian socialist communities. They were betrayed by Bolsheviks and Stalinists respectively.
> Which simultaneously explains the extreme poverty Socialism has produced every time it has been attempted.
Britain forcibly deindustrialized India, reducing it from the most productive region of the world to one of the poorest. This, somehow, is not an indictment of capitalism, but all the dictatorships that call themselves communist are an indictment of communism. I don't care at all to defend the likes of the USSR or their satellite puppet governments, but you're drunk on propaganda if you think any of these criticisms you've leveled cannot be made against the so-called "free world".
(source: http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/blog/cartoon-blog/amusing-ours... )
Why not for governments?
Or this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasbara
Unfortunately there's no obvious way to stop it because politicians appear to believe spy agencies should be unaccountable and above the law.
So, some people at the GCHQ have discussed doing these things. However, is there any evidence that they've actually done a whole lot?
> Or this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasbara
I don't really consider Isreal a Western country, but in any case, that is interesting.
Why? That's pretty naive.
Comparatively, between the two nations, I don't think the role of the Chinese state in controlling the thoughts of its citizens can be easily compared with American free market capitalism. In reality, China also has similar model of capitalism which operates in a similar way.
The government creating fake posts, the Chinese fire wall.. Tiananmen Square.. people with anti-goverment views at local level - regularly going missing.. official and unofficial snithches on nearly every street.. I could go on.
The unique role of the Chinese government (unlike America) make their social media habits interesting.
Now of course American social media habits are interesting, but not for the same reasons, and I would argue: American social media habits aren't as important in areas like human rights.
To put it in another context: if I was making this post from china or was Chinese - I would be looking over my shoulder and perhaps writing more ambiguously.
This is old news. It was first revealed in 2004.
What would be interesting in a bad way would be if the US government was using it at anywhere near the scale of the Chinese government.
The irony of the thread is that the fundamental debate is about if such a forum should be allowed to exist without government mediation and control.
Here's one of the most interesting deceptive phenomenon that almost all the modern human failed to detect. That's why the states have so many headaches and will continue to have more headaches.
A rational politician should control his/her own strong desire from ideology(i.e. eager to spread the value of democracy/universal human rights all over the world) to avoid the "huge headache". But the reality is irrational politicians driven by their strong belief pretend to be rational so others think their decision is based on reasoning.
A famous example as I mentioned in another post is Mr.Obama blamed G.W.Bush, who created headache of Iraq with a naive view that he was doing good thing to Iraqis, but Obama created Libya headache by himself. What he criticized Bush in words is just a way of showing he had a better judgement and more reasonable than Bush so he can win in election. His behavior shows there's little difference.
Another example is Politicians like to talk "US interests". Most people might not think of the WORD is just a way to show other people they are rational. Their behavior not always really align with US interest.
Next time when you hear a politician saying "A failed state with 1.3 billion people would be a huge headache and against US interest", don't be so confident they are the same as you. Politicians are special specie extremely good at creating wrong impression to other people.
Obama is very different from GW Bush.
There aren't any huge ideological battles going on these days, the cold war is over, and the big baddies for us to face are failed states and terrorism, both of which would thrive in a more unstable China. Heck, our worst nightmare is Russia imploding. I bet they lift up on sanctions soon just because of that.
Operations like spying, funding social unrested in other countries are not necessarily under the mission of regime change. they are more like insurance. take China for example, what if its economy suddenly sinked and President Xi had no choice but to start a war against Japan/Taiwan/...? In these nightmare scenarios, groups of unrest with strong connections to USA govt. would become handy, if not crucial. I bet every major powers have hundreds of nightmare scenarios, and each of them has various `assets` requirements presented to the congress/presidents/chairmen, with a dotted bottom line: "hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
I'm not sure how making a destabilized China even less stable would improve the situation, nor do I think this insane theory is a part of the USA's security doctrine. The USA's biggest form of security is its huge unmatchable military, if things get bad with an established country, they just blow things up for awhile. The danger is if that country falls apart into a bunch of factions that cannot be targeted via conventional warfare.
Put this way: gulf war 1, Iraq invaded Kuwait, we easily take them out. But we don't dismantle their government because...that would make the problem much worse and our military much less effective (good at taking out countries, not so much in taking out terrorists, Isis, etc...). Gulf war 2: the son is not as smart as the father, goes too far, screws us for a decade+ in an unwinnable war. Sadam Hussein as an intact power was much easier to deal with than the vacuum that now exists.
So if something bad happens with China, there will probably be a good gulf-war-1 style spanking involved, but not with the goal to destroy China, depose its government, and make the situation much much worse. No one in the USA gov hated Gaddaffi enough to want him out at the cost of a destabilized Lybia (it was the lybians themselves who wanted him out).
The enemy you know (and can easily bomb) is much better than the enemy you don't know.
So sanctions don't help but also don't hurt. When Putin ends or nukes the fridge is when all the fun will start.
Do recall these jobs are ones one gets by studying hard for a rote test/civil service exam. So one might feel obliged when working for the state (where it's prestigious to work, as seen by fam) to defend the state.
I am not surprised if you can find another 800M posts is for soft advertising.
On the positive side, when you have an undivided narrative like that you can get a lot done (sometimes bad, sometimes good) without impeding distractions.
The story they are trying to control/guide is much more reactive, like preventing social unrest, rioting, exploding financial scams, etc...often very local.
Totalitarian is probably not the most fitting word to describe the current state of Chinese society, insofar as it connotates an environment of constant fear of unwarranted state intrustion into everyday life. The only environment I've been in that could be said to be "totalitarian" in that sense would be the south side of Chicago.
The point is only one narrative is allowed success any usurper with too much notice would get suppressed.
Sure, you can find, if you look hard enough, you can find like minded people, just don't make it obvious, don't appear as if you could pose an ideological threat incompatible with the goals of the CCP or PLA.
It is difficulty it to describe China's political system using existing terms. Maybe authoritarian, but that doesn't feel right either. It isn't transparent in how the power flows, could even be an oligarchy or aristocracy.
Likewise, when party members vote for congress party members, the decisions are often pre-determined. Ironically enough, Xi Jinping actually lost a vote once:
> Xi held posts in the Fuzhou Municipal Party Committee and became the president of the Party School in Fuzhou in 1990. In 1997, Xi was named an alternate member of the 15th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. However, out of the 151 alternate members of the Central Committee elected at the 15th Party Congress, Xi received the lowest number of votes in favour, placing him in last place in the rankings of members, ostensibly due to his status as a Princeling.[a]
Of course, it didn't matter much, because votes are..well..even under the perverted Chinese system where outcomes are almost always predetermined, if they are not what is wanted, they are just fudged anyways.
And everyone knew Xi Jinping would get elected even before the first vote was cast by the party. There wasn't like any suspense, there were no odds in London. This year in the US, it is not certain that Clinton or Trump will will the POTUS election...we have hunches, but there is no certainty.
Calling China a republic is like calling North Korea a republic. Technically true, but ultimately meaningless.
In the U.S., you've had Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and strong chance of Clinton and Bush again next term. It's a Republic in name, but it is also where a political system where political power is often inherited, arguable even more so than in China. If U.S. qualifies as a republic, I'd say China does too. We might know Xi was going to be president before the election was going to happen, but that happens in Westminster parliaments too - we are only electing our local representative, but everyone knows there are only two candidates. Same is true for China, where it was Xi and Bo Xilai. The latter lost.
Yeah, get too many of those and see what happens.
So I wonder, is there any evidence that this works, or is it just a sop to angry old men in the politburo who don't like what they see online?
In the U.S. we're very vigilant about our first amendment rights and feel violated if they're even slightly tampered with, but for some of the Chinese at least, they don't see it interfering with their lives as long as "things are going okay" for them.
She sees her relatives sharing propaganda pieces on WeChat and showed us a video of her aunt unironically performing the "Loyalty Dance" (as in loyalty to Mao) with her coworkers. They will also get angry at her when she tries to talk about China's worse points.
This might be an age thing though, maybe the younger generations have a different outlook on these things.
So they hear stories from their grandparents and parents about people starving to death because of the famines.
These things will take time. As the Chinese get more comfortable, those younger people will join the system and change it form within.
Remember that South Korea, Singapore, and even Taiwan were dictatorships that improved their quality of life significantly before they became democracies.
In Taiwan and South Korea, anyone with enough popular support can get on the ballot.
From the Singapore wiki,
"Potential candidates must obtain certificates of eligibility from the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), the function of which is to ensure that such persons have the necessary qualifications to be nominated as a candidate for the election" 
There's really only one type of organisation that could use that data: a government.
But fear do the rest of the work.
(gives them three years to balance trade with the US)
Let's see how they can survive this...
1. Lets see how much robots can replace of the labour
2. China one accumulated most of the world silver reserves. Buying nothing and selling silk and porcelain. This was one of the reasons for the Opium war. Today China produces nothing that not somebody else could produce. Shoes, Clothes, toys, electronics. They tried to get a monopoly with rare earth metals but this seem to have failed.
I challenge your statement. I doubt the outcome.