What are the chances and possible consequences of democratisation in China?

None, because the strongest forces outside the ruling clique are a cult, nationalists, and Maoists. If they do make a democracy, it will be a democracy in name only with 1-2 parties that are made up of ex CCP officials.

The following is a list of potential rivals to the current leadership:

None, because the strongest forces outside the ruling clique are a cult, nationalists, and Maoists. If they do make a democracy, it will be a democracy in name only with 1-2 parties that are made up of ex CCP officials.

The following is a list of potential rivals to the current leadership:

Category 1: Significant Forces

Falun Dafa – Formerly China’s largest religion, Falun Dafa in exile is the the most vocal and well funded Chinse opposition group. Most of the movement’s 100 million followers were middle aged women, but the movement since the crackdown has been led by wealthy and well-educated exiles, who have funded a vast empire of opposition activities. Falun Dafa’s projects include two written mouthpieces: minghui and epoch times, TV network New Tang Dynasty, the Shen Yun cultural festival (which ends with a depiction of a typhoon destroying Shanghai), and English language propaganda outlet China Uncensored. Falun Gong also runs Tuidang yundong, a volunteer effort which does mail and phone campaigns in China to encourage CCP members to resign their membership. Their claimed “body count” is larger than the total number of CCP members. In the late 1990s, Falun Gong posed a potential (but unrealized) threat to the Chinese government, as it claimed over 100 million members on the mainland in good authority and organized Tiananmen-style marches against the CCP. The religion was severely suppressed by the Jiang Zemin administration, and today its adherents in mainland China most likely number in the hundreds of thousands.

Key to the success of the suppression campaign was a 2001 self-immolation incident, which Falun Dafa stated was staged. Western observers were quick to point out the incongruities in the incident (including the presence of firefighters just yards away from where the incident took place, ready to put out the flames). The CCP has since done interviews with one of the perpetrators to try to counteract this narrative. At the time, the self-immolation incident painted Falun Gong practitioners as insane, and created a social stigma towards the religion that aided its persecution.

While well-funded and well-organized, Falun Gong is seen in the same light by Chinese as Westerners see Scientology, as its Tuidang campaign is widely parodied on Chinese social media.

Maoists – Probably the most serious threat to the Xi regime today, and one of the few forces that is still regularly demonstrating. The purge of Maoists is ongoing but has been more subtle than crackdowns against other forces, because there is sympathy for Mao within the government, and especially within the senior ranks of the PLA. High-ranking Maoists inside the PLA include Major General Li Shenming, who contradicted the CCP’s official history by denying that the Great Leap Forward led to human deaths (on the CCP’s own website, mind you), and Mao’s grandson, Mao Xinyu. While retaining their rank within the PLA, both men were removed from important posts early in the Xi administration. Still, sympathy for Maoism within the government means that Maoist agitators like Yuan Yuhua continue to give speeches at universities. The government has vaccilated on the main Maoist agitation/news outlet, Maoqi Network. The site was banned and unbanned several times before finally being unbanned in 2017.

Perhaps the most famous Chinese Maoist in the West was Bo Xilai, party secretary of Chengdu. Bo made waves in Western and Chinese media as the first high-profile corruption case prosecuted by the Xi administration. Western outlets suspected that his prosecution was in response to his public campaign for a position on the Standing Committee, China’s highest governing body. Public campaigning to influence CCP promotions is a taboo within the Communist Party, and Bo’s neo-Maoist movement was dismantled as a result. However, his supporters and subordinates reorganized into the “Zhixiandang”, a Chongqing Maoist party, but it was banned later that year. Low-level protests continued, reportedly until 2017.

Maoism in China is divided into several segments. In 1989, Tiananmen leader Chen Ziming said that Maoists were divided into two categories: those with fond memories of Mao, and those who thought Mao was still relevant. This is still true today. Most Chinese are at least partially in the first category, especially rural people, the elderly, and those who feel left out of the country’s development. While the party has grown internally critical of Mao, he is still widely praised in popular media.

The second category are the left wing of the CCP, whose fortunes have waxed and waned, but who still constitute a force. After Mao’s death in 1976, the left wing “Gang of Four”, led by his wife, was purged by Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping. However, a remnant of this faction survived, led by future premier Li Peng. During the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the left within the CCP recovered their prominence after the right, led by Zhao Ziyang, failed to contain the protests with an appeasement approach. Li convinced Deng Xiaoping to purge the right, crack down on the protests, and restore state control over the economy. After Li’s retirement, the left-CCP was led by Luo Gan. Much of the left has been purged by Xi after his takeover, but some officials survive.

Besides Zhixiandang, there have been other short-lived attempts to organize a Maoist party separate from the CCP. One party attracted media attention in 2009, but was last reported about in 2012.

Nationalists – By far the most potent faction today. While Maoism is popular among the PLA’s generals, ultranationalism runs strong among the junior officers, who routinely (and very publicly) brainstorm ways to destroy the US and conquer Asia. The most outspoken member of this group is Colonel Dai Xu, who founded his own think tank dedicated to sinking the US navy, and writes a column devoted to rallying his countrymen against America and China’s regional enemies. In case this wasn’t enough, he also has a blog. He still holds his rank in the armed forces while doing all this, mind you, and is a senior lecturer at the PLA war college.

Also prominent in this group is Colonel Liu Mingfu, who has written a number of books about China’s prospects to create a new world order, based on “superior cultural genes”. The “hawks”, as they’re called in China, appear to be Xi’s favored faction of the PLA. Xi has adopted a number of their recommendations for the modernization of the PLA, and appointed Wei Fenghe, a missile commander connected to the group, as defense minister last year. While generally outranked by the Maoist old guard in the senior ranks, the nationalists have the upper hand because their seniors have largely been kicked upstairs since 2013-15.

Nationalism is extremely popular among ordinary Chinese, so much so that one could say China’s dominant ideology is not Communism, but nationalism. The nine dash line is the single most popular WeChat avatar, and the CCP frequently tries to calm down grassroots nationalist responses, such as the boycott on Japanese goods and the public’s response to the Xinjiang question. In other cases, the regime mobilizes nationalism for its own benefit. Despite this, there is no nationalist popular organizations like there are for Maoists, meaning the nationalist faction, for the time being, is strictly a military one.

Category 2: Illegal Cults

Illegal religions in China are those not controlled or registered under state associations. Since 2003, they have been persecuted by the 610 Office, which was originally dedicated only to Falun Gong. Cults have been a major source of rebellion throughout Chinese history, and the CCP’s current policy of suppressing any religion that gets too large is a mirror of Imperial policy. This in turn makes cult members criminals in the eyes of the central government, and makes them easy to stir to rebellion.

Spirit Sect – Founded in 1986 by a man named Hua Xue, this Christian sect has attracted a following among rural peasantry in Shandong. Hua was sentenced to forced labor in 1990 for “hooliganism”, but his cult persisted and several members were put on trial in 2014.

Disciple Society – Influenced by the suppressed “Jesus Family”, Disciple Society was founded in 1989 by Ji Sanbao, and preached that prayers and faith could increase the grain harvest. The cult’s third leader, Chen Shirong, was jailed, but the cult retains a membership potentially in the hundreds of thousands, and made headlines in 2014 with a suicide controversy.

Three Grades of Servants – A cult at one point retaining hundreds of thousands of members, whose existence today is questionable. In 2018, the government convicted Yunnan peasants allegedly part of this organization, but this was disputed by cult watchers. In the 2000s, the organization was involved in assassinations against its rival, Eastern Lightning.

Eastern Lightning – Probably the largest illegal cult in China besides Falun Dafa, Eastern Lightning is a considerable force with 4 million members. The organization has “defeated” a number of smaller cults and occupies a prominent position in sections of rural China. It runs a very amusing youtube channel and has been implicated in murders.

Category 3: Insignificant/Defunct Forces

Guo Wengui – A billionaire who escaped to his Manhattan loft and claimed to have inside knowledge of the CCP’s corruption. His documents have since been discredited. The CCP evidently doesn’t consider him much of a threat, since their response has been muted. Apparently, he was still running his company through local proxies in 2018, and probably still is to this day. A pretty cool guy in person though.

Weiquan – While not really a political faction or movement, weiquan are the Chinese equivalent of cause lawyers, offering free legal counsel to people who have been persecuted by the government. In 2016, several were arrested in a limited crackdown.

New Citizen’s Movement – A grassroots organization which staged small protests in China in the early 2010s, based largely on the work of Xu Zhiyong. The movement spread its literature through social media, but was largely destroyed by crackdown in 2013-14.

Democracy Party of China – A movement founded by Tiananmen activists based out of New York City. Until relatively recently, it was running “infiltration campaigns”, which were essentially mail campaigns into China to undermine the CCP. The last campaign was photographed on their website, dated to 2014. It is still holding rallies in the US, the most recent of which was last month.

New Democracy Party of China – A short lived party, founded by a human rights activist. He was arrested in 2008, and the site went defunct the year after.

Category 4: Imaginary Forces

“Princelings” and “Tuanpai” – An outdated and over-simplistic view of CCP internal politics that has since fallen out of favor. When Xi took over, many commentators hypothesized that there were two factions, “Princelings” and the Tuanpai, or “Youth League” faction, who came from different backgrounds (party families vs. peasant/worker families) and existed in different patronage networks. This view has since been contradicted by Xi’s behavior. In the “first round” of Xi’s purges, officials of commoner background were the main victims, but afterr 2016, he enlisted commoners to purge fellow princelings. The “princeling” faction was never that united to begin with, and it has now become clear that Xi intended from the beginning to eliminate people on both “sides”.

“Jiang faction” and “Hu faction” – Another over-simplistic view of the CCP – at the start of Xi’s first purge, some observers believed he was getting rid of the allies of Jiang and Hu. There is some truth in this – many of Jiang’s old allies, like former security chief Zhou Yankang, were removed, but others were incorporated. Hu Jintao’s protege, Li Keqiang, has become Xi’s long-time right hand man. Just like the princelings and tuanpai, these factions were probably never that coherent to begin with.

“CCP Plasticity”

The CCP does not seem to have “factions” in the traditional sense (groups following a leader), but instead has loose conglomerations of people with the same ideas. While details about the CCP’s current deliberations are obscure, we have a lot of information about CCP infighting in the 70s and 80s, dealing with the post-Mao crises and Tiananmen Square, and in 2012 dealing with the Bo Xilai crisis. All the evidence points to the CCP being an “every man for himself” environment, where the leader calls meetings of the Standing Committee to decide major issues, and everyone bickers and tries to assert their own viewpoint. The arguments about China’s growth trajectory in the 70s and 80s led to Hua Guofeng’s retirement and Deng Xiaoping’s instatement as Paramount Leader. The Tiananmen crisis led to Zhao Ziyang briefly convincing Deng and the Standing Committee on his appeasement approach, before Li Peng convinced them it wasn’t working. In the purge of Bo Xilai, the entire Standing Committee met to discuss the issue, and came to an agreement that Bo should be purged. The CCP pursues no consistent policy besides what the group decides, which depends on the persuasiveness of each individual and how the crisis shapes in favor of one position or the other. The “plasticity” of the CCP is key to understanding its response to any potential crisis.


So with this in mind, how could the CCP be overthrown, and by whom? There are a couple possibilities.

  1. Revolution: The most hoped for outcome in the West is that the CCP will be completely overthrown after an economic downturn or major scandal. The security apparatus is very strong and good at crackdowns, as shown by the numerous links in this post and by the crackdown against Falun Gong in the 2000s, so I’d rule this one out. If the CCP is overthrown, there will need to be people on the inside who are okay with it – in other words, a coup.
  2. Nationalist Coup: A far more likely scenario. An economic downturn or scandal leads to protests. The military nationalists decide to dispense with the overbearing party, which is “lacking in ambition and vision”. To gain approval from the protesters and achieve their goal of reunification with Taiwan, they declare a “democracy” before forming a conservative ruling party equivalent to the Japanese LDP.
  3. Maoist Coup: Less likely now than six years ago due to the sidelining of many of the Maoist generals. In this scenario, the senior officers move faster than the “hawks” and force the Politburo to elect a new Standing Committee consisting of the left-CCP, triggering a hardline phase in China’s development.
  4. Reform: Far more likely than revolution, there is a chance that, when faced with protests in response to a major shock, the Standing Committee authorizes limited elections. This is less likely than 2 and 3 simply because the CCP’s policy is to suppress dissent, “learning from the lessons of the USSR”. I’ve written more about this here. If this happens, it will most likely spiral out of control as in Eastern Europe and lead to #2.
  5. Revolt: The most likely scenario overall, and not a hopeful one. In the face of a shock, certain illegal cults and isolated opposition groups take matters into their own hands and start an armed rebellion in the poorer parts of China. Ever-hopeful international rivals try to support these rebellions, but ultimately they go nowhere.

What would a democratic China look like?

The most potent forces in the public consciousness today are Maoism and Nationalism. The “mainstream” CCP today is a compromise between these two lines of thought, which has produced a capitalist middle ground that people “consent” to because it’s working so far. A Chinese democracy would be the same thing, just polarized. There would be a Maoist Party, appealing to people who feel left behind in the New China, and a Nationalist Party, appealing to the elite, who would trade majorities with each other. They would broadly agree on a much more aggressive foreign policy than what the CCP, motivated mainly by economic interests, is pursuing now.

Because everyone with any kind of government experience is or was a CCP member, the parties would be led by largely the same people who are running the CCP today. Just, instead of using the “collective decision making process” I described in the section about CCP plasticity, they’d form 2 distinct factions – leftist and rightist – and fight their battles in public.

Originally posted here on Reddit

I Survived a Toxic Office

It’s been nearly 3 years since I left a toxic office environment at large Hong Kong corporation and preparing to start new work after months of interviewing and upskilling.

Looking back at my time there, the office was really questionable given the circumstances I was brought in, the day-to-day challenges, and the way they treated me as I left the offices.

The company had an intense clique mentality. Nearly every department had their own cliques and subgroups and these groups had a tendency of not being inclusive. It was already a challenge getting to work with the more local colleagues but the fact my former managers tolerated or enabled cliques made the work situation unpleasant. These colleagues would go to lunch without me, not even have the decency to ask if I was interested in something out of courtesy, and really disliked speaking English despite being a multinational office. I wound up getting along with the non-local staff and those who are not into office politics as a result.

Their HR (People Team) does not pretend to even care about employee well-being. Whenever, there is an issue related to cliques or unpleasantness, the HR would pretend to schedule a meeting to discuss then not show up without any real reason. Any attempt to address concerns about reduction of job scope would be met with “oh jobs always evolve at the company”. During my last day at the office, they made it clear that the company has no separate company culture and everything is THE PARENT COMPANY WAY, meaning company comes first. This lack of proper HR is really no surprise seeing that disgruntled employees or fans created a Secrets page to anonymously discuss company or employee issues.

The office doesn’t even practice what it preaches. The current CEO of the company loves to bang on about “stakeholder-centricity, tolerable risk, and bias towards action”. In reality, the company culture is basically the same as the Parent Company, which is risk-averse, bureaucratic, and loves the status quo. The office HR was proud to point out everything in the company runs the PARENT COMPANY WAY. If that was not an issue, there is also the fact that my former manager was hired without HR involvement. First he received a phone call from his friend, the current head of marketing, to go for an interview. Then, he and the market head go out for drinks with the CEO and later have an actual office interview just for show.

Another problem at the the company office is that the CEO is too busy doing public appearances instead of doing his job at the office. While the CEO loves the media attention advocating design thinking and the stakeholder-mindset, in reality none of the things he talks about can be implemented in the office as planned due to the company culture being dictated by The Parent Company and because of his limited involvement at work. It would not surprise me that he will leave the company once the hyped website and mobile app revamp is completed.

Other problems I’ve noticed in the office to list are:

-Lack of close colleagues with them making excuses to not connect on Facebook/Social Media
-Random favouritism with my former manager giving more time to the younger female colleagues while being disrespectful to me
-Fake professionals claiming to stay in contact and then lash out with calls to “just move on” when contacted for advice
-Employees that are either extremely loyal to the company or extremely disgruntled with nothing in between
-Managers actually trying to undermine other projects because they didn’t think of the idea first
-De facto segregation with some departments populated by foreigners and others purely HK locals.
-Giving an employee a pay rise and bonus one year then accusing them of being godawful with threats to the job the following year.
– Weak-minded or desperate jobseekers willing to end friendships or blindly side with The Company for the sake of extra money.

Looking back, it was an OK move to leave that office. I am still recovering from the effects of working in a toxic office and all that job nonsense. Planning on relaxing before starting my new job later this quarter.

Galton Voysey – Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

In response to the growing interest in the previous post about Galton Voysey and Dealdash.com, I felt it would be a good follow-up to help readers learn more about the company given the limited information on their actual About Us page.

In response to the growing interest in the previous post about Galton Voysey and DealDash, I felt it would be a good follow-up to help readers learn more about the company given the limited information on their actual About Us page.

When was Galton Voysey Founded?

Galton Voysey was founded in 2014 by CEO Marine Aubrée Antikainen backed by William Wolfram, Founder & CEO of DealDash and Chairman of Galton Voysey.

What is the difference between Galton Voysey and DealDash?

DealDash offers shoppers the most fun & exciting way to save up to 90% off their favorite brands. Unlike ordinary penny auctions, DealDash’s model allows bidders who didn’t win the auction to buy the item for its regular price and get a full refund of all the bid credits. Galton Voysey brings outstanding brands to a market of discerning, quality conscious shoppers. Between building, acquiring and advising brands across a wide range of products categories, Galton Voysey has become home to 28 iconic labels. Products from Galton Voysey’s 28 leading brands are regularly featured on DealDash.

Who is the head of Galton Voysey?

William Wolfram is the Chairman and Marine Aubrée Antikainen is Chief Executive Officer of Galton Voysey.

How many employees work for Galton Voysey?

Galton Voysey employs over 200 people in total. Their headquarters is in Hong Kong, but they also have offices located in cities like Helsinki, Tokyo, Paris and New York.

What is Galton Voysey’s primary business?

Galton Voysey acquires and develops timeless brands leveraging the power of social media and data. The company has a portfolio of 28 brands. The brands house a wide range of product categories, the largest being chef’s knives, jewelry, leather goods and handcrafted rustic furniture.

What is the mailing address and phone number of Galton Voysey’s world headquarters?

Galton Voysey
Unit C 27/F & Unit A 17/F
Grandion Plaza
932 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Kowloon, HK

+852 6573 6334

Is Galton Voysey a Scam?

No, Galton Voysey is a legitimate company producing a variety of products sold on their brand website, on Amazon.com, and on Dealdash.com.  The company also has a strong and positive employee culture as noted on Glassdoor.com.

Weird Asian-Americans & How they Damage Asian-Americans as a whole

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

1. Issues surrounding ethnic identity
2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

The Asian-American Community is its own Worst Enemy

By  Ronald Chiang

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

  1.  Issues surrounding ethnic identity
  2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

It seems that the majority of Asian-Americans dwell on their identity.  On one hand, they tend to do what they can to fit in with the majority population, whether it is just learning to be a monolingual English speaker, studying a eurocentric view of Asian history, or trying hard to fit in.

For whatever reason, many Asian-Americans chose to pursue a monolingual existence with English being their native or primary language.  They tend to not like speaking their cultural language (Chinese, Vietnamese, Gujarati) over some misguided attempt to fit in with the majority non-Asian peers in school or because they believe they are superior by virtue of living in the USA.

Then later in life, they lament about having a narrow life experience because they cannot pursue other professional opportunities due to a lack of knowledge in an Asian language or some sense of regret that they’ve compromised themselves.

Like most people, history in the United States for Asian-Americans is taught from a western standpoint often with the general concept that much of the US, Canada, and Europe are rich and free while the rest of the world is poor and dependent on the USA for their futures.  As a result, enough Asian-Americans grow up believing they are again superior by virtue of living in the United States and develop a tendency to look down on their unamericanized Asian peers.

Again, as they get older and learn about reality being Asian-American, they regret being indoctrinated in such a falsehood and sometimes overcompensate with zealous support of their native country (China, Korea) in such a manner, including but not limiting to nationalism, and whataboutism, that they make native citizens of those places seem unpatriotic.

Then lastly, like their parents and other immigrants, many Asian-Americans work too hard to “make it” in the USA by becoming financially secure and often compromise themselves to fit in.  Some ways they’ve done this is by embracing the Model Minority stereotype, which implies that Asian-Americans will be accepted and fit in American society if they choose to become leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and avoid social issues of “undesirable minorities” like African-Americans and Latinos.

They’ve also persuaded the rest of the country that they do not need diversity programmes like other minorities because they’re superior Model Minorities and they can work hard to go anywhere.  In extreme cases, they’ve gone out of their way to support Affirmative Action with calls to minimize Asian students to an absolute quantity in favor of diversity for everyone else (including White students).

Not surprisingly, because of the Asian-American community’s apathy and distance from diversity initiatives and the willingness of their majority to hold back their own community in favor of other groups, American society at large became indifferent to social issues in the Asian-American community ranging from dismissing Asians with personal struggles as “rejects” to simply keeping Asian-American media portrayals to an absolute minimum.

When the Asian-American community complains as a whole, the majority population does not take their calls seriously due to their ongoing claims of being Model Minorities, their willingness to put the interests of everyone else above their own community and their general need to stay inoffensive when faced with major social issues.

While it would be unfair to generalize the Asian-American community, the majority of individuals with such values tend to be those from California living in suburbs with upper-middle incomes, from families with university degrees, and have a misguided sense of social justice that involves letting everyone else benefit at their own expense.

These people are the reasons why no meaningful change has occurred among the Asian-American community due to outlandish fears of being grouped with the other minority groups, which often motivates them to avoid “rocking the boat” and an ongoing misguided belief that conforming to an untrue stereotype is the only way to succeed for a place in the USA.

Also, with the growth of social media and online forums these same individuals that often conform to stereotypes usually overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings by resorting to worshipping, if not cheerleading, events in their families’ ancestral country where they have no actual connection to their daily lives other than their ethnicity and known family history.  Examples of this involve Chinese-Americans supporting China’s decision to restrict foreign NGOs or build artificial islands in disputed waters.

Frankly, I am frustrated by all of you Asian-Americans for being walking stereotypes that resort to passive and weak methods to overcompensate for a lack of self-respect and ignorance in their actual history.   Moreover, any suggestions that Asian-Americans can improve their standing within the community through self-respect, understanding of their culture (bilingualism, history), and being assertive in society are often dismissed, invalidated and rejected by the majority who believe in conforming for the sake of pleasing others.

With that in mind, I honestly do not expect any meaningful change in the perception and treatment of the Asian-American community by Asian-Americans themselves and by other Americans in my lifetime.

Are you a real American? It depends on who you ask

Are you a real American? It depends on who you ask
by Stephen M. Moh

“Why would anyone leave the USA?” wrote a friend on Facebook recently, beside a picture of a beautiful sunset beaming on the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Why does everyone leave the US?” might have been a more pertinent question.

Since my parents moved to this land of opportunity and freedom 30 years ago, my friendship circle has changed countless times, as fellow Asian-Americans move back home after college or leave for the expat life.

The years of pop culture; efficient transport; diverse foods; beaches; socials; and family just weren’t enough to make the USA the One.

Although, obviously, many Asian-Americans do end up staying, why do so many Asian-Americans leave after their parents’ sacrifices? Is there a fundamental reason for this trail of break-ups?

When watching a youtube clip for “Mistresses”, many commenters kept praising Yunjin Kim for her excellent English as a Korean.

Only Yunjin Kim wasn’t a foreigner; she grew up in Staten Island, New York with US citizenship.

“But she’s not an American,” some responded when others pointed out she is American. “She grew up here and her husband is Asian-American,” I argued. Her status, they said, would depend on how deeply she actually connected with American”culture”.

What is an American then, if not someone raised in the US and naturalized?

In the multicultural British capital, a Londoner can be of any skin color, eat any type of food and have a mother tongue other than English. To describe a British-born man with Indian parents, say, as a “foreigner” might well spark a riot.

If a lifetime spent in the US can’t make you an American, if the children you might have here can’t access that identity (at least, not in the eyes of some), perhaps this country – despite the idea of opportunity and freedom that welcomed our parents – isn’t a natural place to call home, after all.

What are some prominent Asian American issues?

If you’re referring to the political and social issues that Asian-Americans face today, these are a few that come to mind:

Combating the “model minority” stereotype

  • The myth that all Asian Americans are economically successful, and that other races should emulate them.
  • Due to this myth, many Asian Americans in need are denied access to public assistance programs.
  • It treats Asian Americans as a monolithic and homogeneous entity by aggregating statistics of several different groups.
  • The racism that Asian Americans face in society and their achievements in overcoming racism are often understated or ignored altogether.
  • It promotes divisiveness between Asian Americans and other racial minorities
  • It’s dehumanizing to base a people’s identity on little besides (often inaccurate) perceptions of high income level and education.
  • It promotes the notion that Asians are apathetic, apolitical, and okay with the status quo.
  • It creates even greater expectations of achievement out of Asian-American students, which can be psychologically harmful.


Breaking the bamboo ceiling

  • Asian Americans are often excluded from executive positions in the workplace or passed over for promotions because of negative stereotypes.
  • They are less likely to been seen as having leadership potential, charisma, or creativity.
  • They are assumed to be quiet and complacent, less likely to seek out raises and promotions (not “go-getters” or risk-takers, lacking in confidence).
  • They are often pigeonholed into certain roles based on stereotypes of being good at math or the “Asian nerd” portrayed in media.
  • Even American-born Asians are seen, for no reason based on fact, as having weaker English and communicative/interpersonal skills.
  • Those that try to break these stereotypes are often viewed negatively by the general American population for trying to deny their Asian-ness


Gaining political access and minority rights

  • As mentioned earlier, Asian Americans are often seen as politically apathetic due to the expectation that they be quiet and accepting, etc.
  • Likewise, there are fewer policies in place to protect the rights of Asian Americans than other minorities.
  • Because Asian Americans are relatively recent immigrants, they are less politically established with fewer role models in office.
  • Asian Americans are often treated as “perpetual foreigners” and unassimilable (“Where are you really from?”).
  • Many Asian Americans are not citizens, and never apply for citizenship.
  • Many Asian Americans don’t speak English well enough to feel comfortable exercising their right to vote, hence the push for more multilingual ballots and English language classes.
  • Asian Americans are far less represented in state and federal government than is proportionate to their population.
  • Some argue that the US still has racist immigration policies (I don’t know about the extent to which this is true).
  • Many Asian Americans feel helpless to change the system, and because the community is so diverse, it is hard to organize politically.


Addressing Media Stereotypes

  • Orientalism in Western art and literature.
  • The “Asian nerd” stereotype, social awkwardness (this is often the only role available to Asian American men; there are few AA men in television).
  • Asian Americans as misogynists or otherwise culturally “backward” (every plot with an Indian-American woman somehow involves an arranged marriage, for example).
  • “Geisha girl” and “China doll” stereotypes; exoticism of Asian women who somehow always fall madly in love with their white colonial oppressors.
  • Asian American women as submissive and obedient.
  • South Asians treated as “terrorists” (see baseless accusations against Huma Abedin, for example).
  • South Asians as call center workers or “job-stealers” due to outsourcing (still reflects negatively on Indian Americans).


Other issues: hate-based violence, these days often targeting Sikhs and others mistaken for Muslims post-9/11; in the past, there has been a long history of anti-Asian violence, extending from the murder of Vincent Chin to the LA riots, etc. Anti-Asian bullying in the military (and possibly schools) has also gotten more attention lately.

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”   (August 9, 2010)

Japan’s stagnating economy and society are still operating on a postwar model which no longer makes sense. In response, its young generations are opting out of workaholic career paths, marriage and having children.

We in America are already getting a taste of the social costs of grinding economic decline. Young people who are graduating from college find a world of greatly diminished opportunities for full-time employment.

Many of the jobs that are available are free-lance/contract or other temp jobs, or part-time positions which pay one-third of what their parents earn.

Lacking sufficient income, young people are moving back home or staying at home because that is the only financially viable option open to them.

The cheerleaders cranking the hype machine shrilly claim that the U.S. economy will soon start growing smartly. But as this weblog and many others have documented over the past five years, that assumption has essentially no foundation in reality.

Much more likely is an “end to (paying) work” of the sort I have described here many times:

End of Work, End of Affluence (December 5, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence I: Cascading Job Losses (December 8, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence III: The Rise of Informal Businesses (December 10, 2008)

Endgame 3: The End of (Paying) Work (January 21, 2009)

Demographics and the End of the Savior State (May 17, 2010)

What happens to the social fabric of an advanced-economy nation after a decade or more of economic stagnation? For an answer, we can turn to Japan. The second-largest economy in the world has stagnated in just this fashion for almost twenty years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” which have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, the social conventions of Japan are fraying or unraveling under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and the massive global export machine of “Japan, Inc,” lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society– measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years; to the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice of society prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a bestselling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than three million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation which abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs, as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

Many fear that as the generation of salaried Baby Boomers dies out, the country’s economic slide might accelerate. Japan’s share of the global economy has fallen below 10 percent from a peak of 18 percent in 1994. Were this decline to continue, income disparities would widen and threaten to pull this once-stable society apart.

Young Japanese, their expectations permanently downsized, are increasingly opting out of the rigid social systems on which Japan, Inc. was built.

The term “Freeter” is a hybrid word that originated in the late 1980s, just as the Japanese property and stock market bubbles reached their zenith. It combines the English “free” a nd the German “arbeiter,” or worker, and describes a lifestyle which is radically different from the buttoned-down rigidity of the permanent-employment economy: freedom to move between jobs.

This absence of loyalty to a company is totally alien to previous generations of driven Japanese “salarymen” who were expected to uncomplainingly turn in 70-hour work weeks at the same company for decades, all in exchange for lifetime employment.

Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of “lifetime” jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.

They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.

In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.

As long ago as 2001, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that 50 percent of high school graduates and 30 percent of college graduates now quit their jobs within three years of leaving school.

The downside is permanently downsized income and prospects. Many of the four million “freeters” survive on part-time work and either live at home or in a tiny flat with no bath. A typical “freeter” wage is 1,000 yen ($8.60) an hour.

Japan’s slump has lasted so long, a “New Lost Generation” is coming of age, joining Japan’s first “Lost Generation” which graduated into the bleak job market of the 1990s.

These trends have led to an ironic moniker for the Freeter lifestyle: Dame-Ren (No Good People). The Dame-Ren get by on odd jobs, low-cost living and drastically diminished expectations.

The decline of permanent employment has led to the unraveling of social mores and conventions. Many young men now reject the macho work ethic and related values of their fathers. These “herbivores” reject the traditonal Samurai ideal of masculinity.

Derisively called “herbivores” or “Grass-eaters,” these young men are uncompetitive and uncommitted to work, evidence of their deep disillusionment with Japan’s troubled economy.

A bestselling book titled The Herbivorous Ladylike Men Who Are Changing Japan by Megumi Ushikubo, president of Tokyo marketing firm Infinity, claims that about two-thirds of all Japanese men aged 20-34 are now partial or total grass-eaters. “People who grew up in the bubble era (of the 1980s) really feel like they were let down. They worked so hard and it all came to nothing,” says Ms Ushikubo. “So the men who came after them have changed.”

This has spawned a disconnect between genders so pervasive that Japan is experiencing a “social recession” in marriage, births, and even sex, all of which are declining.

With a wealth and income divide widening along generational lines, many young Japanese are attaching themselves to their parents, the generation that accumulated home and savings during the boom years of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Surveys indicate that roughly two-thirds of freeters live at home.

Freeters “who have no children, no dreams, hope or job skills could become a major burden on society, as they contribute to the decline in the birthrate and in social insurance contributions,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor wrote in a magazine essay titled, Parasite Singles Feed on Family System.

This trend of never leaving home has sparked an almost tragicomical countertrend ofJapanese parents who actively seek mates to marry off their “parasite single” offspring as the only way to get them out of the house.

An even more extreme social disorder is Hikikomori, or “acute social withdrawal,” a condition in which the young live-at-home person will virtually wall themselves off from the world by never leaving their room.

Though acute social withdrawal in Japan affect both genders, impossibly high expectations of males from middle and upper middle class families has led many sons, typically the eldest, to refuse to leave the home. The trigger for this complete withdrawal from social interaction is often one or more traumatic episodes of social or academic failure: that is, the inability to meet standards of conduct and success that can no longer be met in diminished-opportunity Japan.

The unraveling of Japan’s social fabric as a result of eroding economic conditions for young people offers Americans a troubling glimpse of the high costs of long-term economic stagnation.

There is even a darker side to this disintegration of the social fabric and convention: child abuse is on the rise as well. Sadly, people under long-term stress often take out their multiple frustrations on the weakest, most marginalized people–including children:

Record 44,210 child abuse cases logged in ’09

Japan hit by huge rise in child abuse

Both Japan and the U.S. alike desperately need a peaceful revolution in expectations, financial justice (i.e. the absence of fraud, collusion, looting, gaming the system and parasitic leeching by financial and political Elites) and in the social definitions of wealth, security, community, “growth” as a measure of well-being and prosperity, and ultimately, what constitutes meaningful “work.”

In effect, postwar Japan grafted a mercantilist export economy based on insane work-hours onto a traditional patriarchal society in which women were expected to sacrifice their autonomy and ambitions for the good of their children, husband and the husband’s parents.

The male “salaryman” was expected to sacrifice his life up to retirement to his employer, via 60-70 hour work-weeks and killing commutes. Children were expected to sacrifice their childhood and teen years to study, in order to pass hellishly demanding exams on which their future livelihood, career and income depended.

These extremes of sacrifice might have made sense or seemed necessary to rebuild the nation after World War II. But now, 65 years and three generations after the war, these sacrifices make no sense and are destroying the social fabric of Japan.

Men who work 70 hours a week have no real role in their children’s lives, nor are they able to be husbands and fathers in any meaningful day-to-day sense. Understandably, many young Japanese men are opting out of that life of absurd, fundamentally meaningless sacrifice to corporations or the government.

For their part, young women are opting out of the burdens of being in effect a single parent who carries the immense responsibility of guaranteeing the academic success of her son(s) and the marriageability of her daughter(s). Further, as in standard traditional societies, she essentially leaves her own family and throws in her lot with her husband’s family, as she is expected to care for his aging parents as a daughter-in-law.

Given these burdens, it’s no wonder a third of Japanese young women have not married and have no plans to marry. According to one female author quoted in one of the above articles, Japanese men sometimes propose to women with lines like: “I want you to cook miso soup for me the rest of my life.” Quelle surprise that Japan’s increasingly educated and well-traveled young women are not impressed with this offer of lifetime menial servitude.

Japan’s youth are opting out of its stagnating economy and traditionalist society for good reason: the sacrifices demanded are inhuman and no longer make sense.What Japan needs is 35-hour work-weeks and shared jobs, not 70-hour work-weeks for some and dead-end jobs for half its youth.

If Japan wants to encourage families and women to have children, then it needs to recognize that the sacrifices demanded of young men and women no longer make sense in today’s world.

The moment of doubt.

It’s always something that will jolt me back into whatever I should be doing. Whether it involves getting into a better career path or getting back in shape. Something has to happen before I start taking that part of my life under control.

I remember last summer going with a friend to the Gansevoort in the meatpacking district just for kicks and to meet new people.  We knew people who could get us in and we got there before it got too crowded.  Just my luck, I ran into an old friend I had not seen since 2008 despite staying in touch via Facebook and messenger. He was completely suited up and was there to celebrate his show’s success in getting expanded to a daily format. He talked about how he was involved in activism and caught the attention of some media personalities in need of someone of his experience and political views. One meeting led to another and he became the producer. I really was glad he made it after going through some challenges several years ago. At the same time,  it struck me that I really didn’t advance in my professional life I had hoped. I was scapegoated in my previous position and I basically had to start over when I joined a new account team. The pay did not increase and the company gave all employees a paycut regardless of performance as a cost cutting measure to stabilise their precious share price.

It really hit me that night out and I lost the mood to enjoy the night. It was more complicated when I saw a coworker there enjoying his professional and personal growth with his friends and girlfriend as well. It really felt like everyone was moving ahead while I was left behind with a few others. I wound up leaving the place with my friend after spending less than two hours there.

After that night, I made an effort at my current position with the new account team. The effort rarely paid off as I was being micromanaged with no chance to work independently and based on my actual workload. There was also no guarantee that I would even get a raise, let alone promoted.

I knew this was a dead-end and I started working on getting myself out of this professional rut. For starters, I hired a professional writer to help update my resume based on my work experience with the hope it would get attention from better companies and highlights skills that I may have overlooked. It was also good luck that a headhunter reached out to me with an opportunity at a company I had strong interest in. In the end, I managed to quit my dead-end job and start at a place that is closer to my professional goals.

Now I find myself facing a similar situation in my personal life. I was in a serious relationship for over a year before it ended thanks to my previous position and from an increasingly unappreciative girlfriend. It took me time before I decided to go on a rebound relationship with a girl setup by friends. After three months, she decided to break up without reason and the friends who set me up with her didn’t care and blamed me for it without caring how it happened. It was messed up that she stopped on a whim but it was even more disappointing the way people who I thought were my friends reacted.

I decided to simply stop bothering to meet new people or girls after those chain of events. I was growing sick of the revolving door friends in the NYC social scene and I was tired of being hurt and worn down by immature and petty girls. I just had it with the entire New York social scene and only trusted my friends from childhood, NJ and college while everyone else is a potential revolving door friend who could disappoint me or drop me at will.  There would be no real reason to go to social events other than professional reasons or for appearances.

Then recently, I met someone at one of these social outings. She was approachable and had a very interesting background. It was also helped by the fact she liked cute things. We were having a fun conversation about current news and random stuff until an old friend ran into her. It turned out that they knew each other from a previous job but lost touch for many years. They really hit it off and I felt lost in the conversation as the event became more crowded and hard to follow. We exchanged numbers and emails and seemed interested in knowing more about some things we discussed, but I really felt I could have made things move in a better direction.  I held back and got lost in the scene because I was wary of making new fake friends and the prospect of a failed connection or more.  It got awkward at the end and I wound up leaving early that night.

The missed connection is bothering me and still bothers me. It’s becoming one of those moments that will get me to reassert myself in this area. It sometimes can be hard distinguishing between someone who can be a good friend from one who will work himself out of a circle of friends for petty reasons. It’s even harder to find a connection in a hectic career and with similar backgrounds despite being in such a large city. I really am unsure how I will get myself out of this predicament and I know this needs to be done or else I will keep having these moments in my personal life.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Strange times

It’s been months since I have started blogging. Blogs from years past focused on personal subjects,  commentary on current events and random reviews.

The blog stopped after a representative/marketing manager from Michael Page international went out of their way to track me down and pressured me in a passive-aggressive way to delete a post detailing my poor experiences dealing with their reps in 2007. The comments from that blog gradually became a hotbed for disgruntled MPI reps and immature reps that supported their company. In any event, mixed reviews of this boutique recruiting firm are all over glassdoor.com if they are out to remove any real or imagined criticisms of their company.

Another reason I stopped blogging was the busy work schedule that kept me from putting time into blogging. Then there was the failed relationship that I involved in but ultimately nothing was ever enough.  These issues lead to a void in my thoughts, feelings and interests.

Recently, I resumed my interests in world events after the people’s revolutions in Egypt and the Middle East. The success in people power and al-Jazeera in contributing to this success gave me a sense of hope and optimism that faded when Obama took office. It really gave people hope that they can make change if they had the means to do so. Some friends expected the uprising to fail and for protests to result in jihadis taking power, but nothing is for certain.  I can only hope that the rebellion in Libya is just as successful as the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings.

In terms of my social life I am really not sure who my friends in NYC really are. It’s been said that friends come and go but my circle of so-called friends is like a revolving door. Some of them simply cut off contact over changes in Facebook while some distance themselves once I switched jobs.  Then there are those who simply disappoint when it mattered and those who will only hang out only if a “cool” mutual friend is there. This is one of the more unpleasant realisations of my time in the city.

My childhood friends are accessible and can be counted. My high school era buddies are good company.  My college friends are one of my core circle of friends. Friends I’ve met around NJ are also good company.  I only wish they were less busy and more accessible.

This is an unpleasant feeling and the only way to get around it is going out and meeting new people. My previous social circle in NYC is not what I thought it was.

There are some things I needed to change now. I will need to start with my Gmats now I have more leisure time that was taken because of an unproductive start-up and issues with my previous job.  I also started exercising again after being in poor shape for months.

I need to keep changing even if people like Obama and my fake NYC friends disappoint me.

Posted from WordPress for Android