Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Kong Qingdong’s ignorance not bliss

Peking University professor Kong Qingdong (孔慶東) is often allowed to spread his gospel on Chinese TV. However, his ideas are not the ideas you would expect from a university professor, and they would likely have caused his ancestor Confucius (孔子) to spin in his grave — after calling Hong Kongers “dogs,” he called Taiwan’s democracy a “pseudo-democracy.” These absurd ejaculations are clear proof that his understanding of law and democracy lags far behind anyone living in the 21st century.

Kong is clearly not qualified to teach at a university. When commenting on the “civil war between Hong Kong and the mainland,” he only saw the negative aspects of Hong Kong and vilified Hong Kong residents, with the result being that the rift between the two areas was deepened. He ignored the Chinese tourists who broke the rules of Hong Kong’s MTR subway network and refused to heed admonitions from fellow travelers that they were not allowed to eat on the trains. The negative impression this has created in Hong Kong will only deepen Hong Kongers’ resentment toward Chinese.

Kong caricatured Taiwan’s presidential election as a “soap opera,” adding that the number of votes for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) “didn’t even add up to half the number of Beijing residents.” This makes it clear that he does not have the first clue about Taiwan and that his understanding of democratic fundamentals are not even up to the standard of a sixth-grader. Most international observers of the recent elections praised Taiwan’s democracy, calling it a benchmark for the Chinese-speaking world. Many people in China also believe the smooth and mature implementation of democracy in the election will serve as a good example for China and increase pressure there for democratic reforms.

Talking about democracy, a joke circulating on the Internet compares democracy in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. It says that in Taiwan, you know the result after an election, in China you know it before the election, while in Hong Kong, elections are only held after the desired result has been decided. It might be a joke, but it rings true.

If Kong wants to comment on democracy, he should first take a look at the sad state of the elections for China’s local people’s congresses last year. “Voting” in Beijing produced more than 4,000 representatives to the local people’s congress — approximately equivalent to Taiwan’s township councils — but Chinese officials place strict controls even at this basic level, banning candidacies of non-Chinese Communist Party members. There is a universe of difference between this situation and Taiwan’s open, fair and free presidential elections.

When Kong ridiculed Ma’s vote total, he highlighted both his ignorance of what democracy is and Beijing’s overbearing attitudes. Kong believes democracy is only about comparing the number of votes received since victory can be achieved by a single vote and that the process means nothing, ignoring the importance of voters freely expressing their opinions when casting their ballots. China’s arrogance is evident in the view that gaining 6 million or 7 million votes means nothing. While that might be true in China, with more than 1 billion people, one still wonders when the Chinese will be able to elect their national leaders in direct popular elections.

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