May 30, 2007
The danwei: still alive and kicking
We often think of the socialist work unit (particularly government agencies) as a relic of the past, populated by has-beens, never-weres, and won't-bes, with the best and the brightest streaming into jobs in the new and dynamic private sector. But in fact, the state sector in China still holds considerable appeal for bright young people. This is good news and bad news, I suppose: given the huge role of the state in society and the economy, it's good to have talented people there. But it does seem a shame to have all that talent engaged solely in regulating and not in producing. (I do not, by the way, advocate abolishing the regulatory role of government, in China or anywhere else. In some areas, such as food and drug safety, clearly the system is too weak, not too strong.)
For the Washington Post article that inspired this post, click here.
May 28, 2007
Here's a good article by Mark Magnier of the Los Angeles Times about the system for rounding up petitioners who come to Beijing and sending them back to their home provinces. To call this state-sanctioned kidnapping is not a metaphor or an exaggeration; it's just a factual description. Restrictions of personal liberty must, under Chinese law, be authorized by a law passed by the National People's Congress or its Standing Committee, and I know of no such law that authorizes the practice described in this article.