Xi’s China is really progressive and impressive

Below is a comment I made regarding Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Kaiser Kuo’s Facebook page, with very slight change.

In my view, domestically, China under Xi is on the right path, unlike, say, Brazil, India, and the United States.

I believe Xi’s a real believer of socialism and a real progressive. I believe his ideology and moral compass is very well aligned with that of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn than Hillary Clinton and Theresa May will ever be. His heart is in the right place. I recommend this interview highly. It was done when he was the leader in Zhejiang province in 2004, way before anybody would know for sure that he would be the future leader of China.

As can be seen through the interview, he’s honed his leadership skills in a small rural village in 陕西 (along with the villagers, he built the first biogas/methane facility using biowaste in 陕西!), as a deputy in the central military council, as a boss in a small county in 河北正定,and various positions in 福建 and 浙江. That leadership showed as soon as he was picked by the party committee as the leader. The proof is in the pudding. Here is a list I quickly came up with:
1. The unrelenting anti-corruption campaign, very effective with tremendous popular support. At the moment, premier Li is in Canada, negotiating extradition treaty to go after corrupt officials in that country. Similar discussions have been had with other 5-eye countries (NSA term for US, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ…);
2. Emission and pollution control. This encompasses many areas: environmental data transparency, more effective regulation, new Environment Protect Law and its enforcement. This has produced results already, CO2, PM2.5 and other pollutant numbers are in a downward trend. Beijing is having more blue sky days than years past. The rest of country is also getting better. For example, during my last trip to my hometown, I noticed all diesel polluting buses were replaced with clean electric bus;
3. Anti domestic violence law was passed and became law of the land early this year. Badly, badly needed in a huge developing country like China. It’s hard to overstate the significance of this development, although sadly it’s not reported that much;
4. 供给侧改革。This is badly named, but not to be confused with Reagan’s supply-side economics. Essentially it means to curb overcapacity and polluting sectors, such as steel, chemical industries;
5. Poverty alleviation. 精准扶贫,targeted poverty alleviation, is an effort to have accurate and detailed statistics on poverty levels, and then fiscal assistance is provided based on those numbers;
6. Anti corruption campaign now also targets the corruption in election process, imagine that!. Just last week, 辽宁人大代表 election results were nullified due to campaign corruption. This is a very encouraging sign;
7. This is hard to quantify, but like neocons and neoliberals who make s**t up and create a toxic social environment for everybody else in the United States, China has its own share of wackos who make things up all the time. I feel that toxic element (money worshiping, consumerism, lying, cheating) is abating since Xi came to power.

Anyhow, I’m too cynical to worship any leader, but I feel really good about this Xi/Li administration.

UMDC: Recommended

I learned about Quincy Carroll’s debut novel, Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, through Jocelyn Eikenburg’s wonderful blog. I really enjoyed it! Quincy Carroll’s levelheaded and nuanced depiction of the two main characters’ experience in China gave us a wonderful, honest perspective that was rarely offered in similar novels, memoirs, or news reports.

It is not unusual for a white person to exhibit superiority complex in a developing country like China (Guillard, the old male teacher from Minnesota in the novel). Similarly, it is not unusual for a non-white person from a small place in a developing country (Bella, the scheming student from Hunan province) to display signs of inferiority complex when engaging with white people from the all mighty America (or UK, Canada, Australia, Germany…). Superiority and inferiority complexes are two sides of the same coin. When they collide, things happen, sometimes comical, sometimes awkward, sometimes sad, mostly sad.

The author, (the other main character in the novel), is honest and compassionate. He is also curious and humble: he took the time to learn the language and speaks it fluently. This enables him to understand and appreciate the local culture and be effective in his teaching. I think that’s the reason he is beloved and respected in that high school. With his observant eyes and the ability to put things down on paper, we ended up with a wonderful book to learn from and enjoy.

I got my bachelor degree in China in the 90s, and had various English teachers in my college from the US. I think I met both types. One was a Vietnam Vet, who must have been traumatized by that war. He taught English and made a decent living by simply being a white American without solid skills and/or certifications, from what I could tell. I’ve also had young Peace Corps volunteers, who were recent college graduates, that were friendly and helpful. For example, looking back now, they must have been tired of all the similar questions being asked again and again, yet they were patient enough not showing it and still being helpful.

Comparing my experience with what’s depicted in the novel, I think the fact that Guillard-types had to go to a small town in Hunan for a job is a sign of progress. It’s tougher for him to make a living through his whiteness and native English language ability in coastal, more developed areas :)

By the way, I think the toxic combination of superiority and inferiority complex is the reason that we have crappy foreign news reporting from mainstream media: on one hand, we have the arrogant journalists from a developed country with plenty attitude and preconceived notions, but without the necessary openness and curiosity; on the other hand, we have the local interpreters/compradors type who have their own complex motives. I’m not saying all journalists are like that, but there are enough such that the western audience is misinformed on many important issues.

Anyway, great book, highly recommended!

Also posted at Amazon, with some edit here.







上图中心的圆柱拱形建筑是沼气生产的核心部件,叫消化器(digester,或anaerobic digester)。该容器内无光无氧,是利用微生物发酵分解原料的地方。原料厌氧发酵后产生的沼气会飘到拱形的顶部被采集。一般消化器里会有搅拌装置,来促进有机物的厌氧发酵过程。

这是位于德国的Windwärts Energie GmbH的消化器建设中的图片:





  • 工厂本身的CHP(Combined Heat and Power station)热电机。该机器燃烧沼气,可以同时提供热能和电能。这些能量可以在该沼气生产厂就地使用:比如热能可以给消化器加热,电能可以反哺给地区电网。有的沼气生产设施就建立在养殖场上,那么热能就可以给牲畜供暖,还可以利用这些热能搞温室蔬菜种植。
    下图是德国Duingen Hauptschule Biogas的热电机,CHP:
  • 沼气升级(upgrade)。来自消化器的沼气的甲烷含量比重会有不同。它还会含有二氧化碳、氢气、少许水份等等。升级(upgrade)的意思就是分离其它成分而提高甲烷(CH4)的比重。当甲烷比率达标后,可以作为天然气使用,直接注入已有的天然气输送管道。也可以加压而生成加压天然气(CNG,Compressed Natural Gas)或液化,给交通工具提供能源。




德国的Windwärts Energie GmbH的消化器建设中的图片
德国Duingen Hauptschule Biogas的热电机



下图是斯德哥尔摩的大沼气公交。目前沼气公交的燃料缩写是CNG,Compressed Natural Gas,不是液化的。液化的压缩率更高。我在网上注意到瑞典的乌普萨拉(Uppsala)有试用液化沼气做公交燃料的项目,不知进展如何。


  • 随着农业机械化和现代化,农作物如秸秆等原料正逐渐丧失以往的肥料和燃料功能,需要处理而不是焚烧,变废为宝。用这些原料造纸是好办法,但用它来生成沼气也很不错;
  • 中国正进行史无前例的大规模城镇化。城镇化质量的一个重要指标是城镇生活垃圾和污水处理。居民的生活垃圾,经过分类整理,可以用来循环和发电;而城镇中的来自居民区和商业区的生活污水里含有人的大小便等有机物(sludge/substrate)污泥。如能和污水处理厂协调结合,利用这些污泥生产沼气,就可以获得能源并减少最终排放物对环境的压力;


  • 城镇化和生活水平提高的另一个后果是人们对肉类蛋白质的需求也越来越多。当然要通过教育宣传等各种方式鼓励人们通过多种方式摄取蛋白质,但城镇化的一个效应确实是大规模的鸡、鸭、猪、羊、牛等养殖业的发展。这当然也会给生活环境带来压力,特别是这些家禽、牲畜的粪便需要处理。这些废料,和上面提到的农业废料如秸秆一样,应当拿来生产沼气。沼气生产后的残余是很好的肥料,能减少目前农村普遍的化肥滥用现象和对工业化肥的依赖。科学处理动物的粪便,也能改善牲畜的生长环境,更加人道,也会提高肉质和利润。



    下图是西班牙莱里达(Lleida)的一家养猪场。该场的猪粪是一家能源合作社(Som Energia Cooperativa)生产沼气的原料。请注意猪圈地上的缝隙,猪的粪便会落到下面的采集设施,便于收集利用。


  • 用以上废料生产沼气,能减少它们在自然环境中的厌氧发酵过程,减少自然界生成并释放的沼气,自然也会减少温室效应。同时,我们用沼气能耗后产生的二氧化碳是carbon neutral的:即我们没有额外往大气层释放温室气体,这是和燃煤、燃油的很大不同,对应对全球气候变化起积极作用。用这种方式产生的能源已经很清洁,再加上该能源自产自销,不需要远程运输,会大大减少输送成本
  • 沼气生产能力的建立也给能源农业的发展提供可能,从而提升一个国家和地区的能源独立和能源安全。能源农业,即energy crop,其产品包括玉米、高粱、小米、杂草等。这些产品可以用来生产沼气,沼气液化后体积成百倍的缩小,非常便于储存和运输。这当然可以作为能源储备,减少从中东、美国、俄国、澳大利亚等地长途进口的石油、煤炭、和天然气。