Find out what you had to say about Question Time on Thursday, 10 March, 2005 from China.
The topics discussed were:
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
Audience question: When is the best time for Hong Kong to have universal suffrage to elect its chief executive?
Democracy is not an abstract concept. By voting, the collective will of the people can act against the potentially oppressive will of the state. It is futile to refer to voter turnout when there is no opportunity to test the collective will of the people of China and Hong Kong. Wealth is rarely evenly distributed, even in Communist regimes. A society that is able to have free and fair elections, a free press and an effective consultation process with its members is a successful society.
Rekha Kodikara, London, UK
Is it not right that China is just adopting a colonial process for Hong Kong, similar to the one the British government instilled for over a century? The chief executive being removed is exactly the same as Chris Patten being removed.
Donald Loughray, Edinburgh
I am very surprised to hear comments about the intelligence and dumbness of Hong Kong and Chinese people as if they were any different from us. The reason why Hong Kong is successful is surely due to the fact that it was a key trading base for Westerners investing in Asia. This gave business exposure to the Hong Kong people who have learnt and are now exploiting this knowledge, as anyone would do.
Karim Sekkat, Oxford
My wife is Hong Kong Chinese. Whenever I visit the city I am struck by its cleanliness and the safe nature of its streets. If Hong Kong democrats could visit a comparable part of inner city high-rise democratic Britain, with its filth, drugs, drunken violence and street crime, much of their enthusiasm for democracy might well disappear.
Keith Nelson-Tomsen, Exeter
Audience question: Does the Chinese Government believe that the recent law passed in Beijing, authorising the use of force against Taiwan, is likely to increase peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait?
The People's Republic has never one day ruled Taiwan. How can it justify that Taiwan is part of The PRC? If because Taiwan was once part of a China that was not ruled by the PRC, justifies the PRC's claim, then doesn't Taiwan also belong to Japan, the Portuguese and the Dutch, who once also ruled Taiwan?
It's hard to believe that tonight's Chinese representatives said Taiwan's destiny should be decided by China first, and then claimed human rights are their prior concern. Isn't that contradictory?!
Min-hua Li, Bath
It is sad to see poor quality of the arguments of those who advocate the absorption of Taiwan by China. They simply reflect the unsupported mantras fed them by the CCP which relies heavily on this issue as a means of support.
"Taiwan is an inalienable part of China" - as if this were an eternal truth! It certainly wasn't part of China 500 years ago and was sold out to colonists or left to its own devices over the years. China taking a direct and active role in Taiwan was the exception, not the rule. Taiwan was legally ceded to the Japanese in 1895 and has never legally been an integral part of any Chinese state since - it was occupied by the ROC in 1945 pending a final settlement with Japan.
Taiwan has been separate from China for 110 years. To argue that it can only ever be part of China is a joke. Maybe it could be part of China, but to argue it has to be is invites ridicule. The Chinese have to deal with this issue through persuasion, not by spouting mantras and taking immovable positions.
With all this talk of Taiwan, what about China's illegal occupation of Tibet?
Philip Peel, Chelmsford
Taiwan's future should be decided by the people living on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Shan Fu, Cambridge
Whether it should be independent should not only decided by Taiwanese, but also mainland Chinese.
Let the people of Taiwan decide what would be the best course for them, and we must all abide by that decision and not attempt to put pressure on the Taiwanese, from either side of the argument.
TEXT: Western hypocrisy re Taiwan is breathtaking. Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, just as Hawaii is part of the US.
Audience question: China's younger generation has been spoiled by living in an age of indulgent materialism. They take little responsibility for their actions. Is this the result of China's "opening-up" policy or the fault of "foreign culture invasion?"
I would like to say something about China's younger generation. As a teacher working in a middle school in Shanghai, I see quite a lot of so called spoiled children. They have enough pocket money to buy whatever they want from snacks to mp3 players. Their material requirements are constantly met because of the rising living conditions and the fact that they are the only child in the family. So in this sense, they are the emperor of the family. However, they also have tremendous pressure in terms of studying well and getting a decent job. In my school, students begin the first classes at 7:10 a.m. and leave school at 4:35 p.m. So most of the students in China have to become the slaves of marks. This is the status quo of china's younger generation.
Wu Ming, Pudong, Shanghai
The "spoilt children problem" has something to do with China's traditional parents-son/daughter interdependence. Parents surely tend to spoil their "bones and flesh" who are their extension and represent their "face". This problem has long being in existence, but the recent affluence of China makes it more prominent.
Lily Zhang, Shanghai
Although excessive materialism is taking over the West, it is spreading mainly from America, and is not really very welcome in Europe. In the past the British have learned beneficial characteristics from the Chinese. Now we are hoping that the Chinese will be able to merge their traditional carefulness and good sense with the materialism to invent a better balance, and help to guide Europe back to a more rational and environmentally acceptable lifestyle.
Richard Gunner, Cirencester
The question about spoiled children is not true. There are many students who, like me, came to study abroad and take care of themselves. They work hard and try to study useful things from this country and, most importantly, just want to go back to China and use their knowledge to build up a better country. They are all proud to be Chinese. They want their country to be the best, and to benefit Chinese public education - and these are the most important issues for this generation.
Huajun Chu, London
When you live in a consumer society, the younger generation become manipulated by corporations. Is China ready to give the power of the people to men who have no goals other than their own?
Bob Cruz, Basingstoke
TEXT: It's not opening up policy that spoils kids, it's the one child policy!
TEXT: Why this idea that deprivation makes you better? It brutalises!
TEXT: Single children are always spoilt, you just need to make sure they get on with others.
Audience question: Do you endorse the description of the human rights situation in China made in the most recent US Human Rights report?
I am a Chinese student in UK. Yes, we do have some human right problems which still need to be resolved, but China has made huge achievement in human right during last decade. Give us more time, and we will do better.
Baoli Zhao, Nottingham
I find the verbal gymnastics of the Chinese spokesman extremely hilarious. How can they accept that there is Human rights violations in china when as per official policy none exists. Even if they have the courage to say and honesty to accept it, they would lose their job tomorrow. Of course human rights does not exist in China and violations are the norm rather than exception. But then how can they accept it. It would be tantamount to blasphemy
NS Parameswaran, Chennai - India
I hope China will just take the human rights issues seriously for the sake of all Chinese people, which includes freedom of speech, free press ie not "accidentally" closing down an online forum on sensitive political topics or what the government regards as bad news. America or Britain have their double standards on human rights - but this is not a reason for not giving Chinese people the freedom and democracy they deserve.
Aileer Cheng, London
Allowing Question Time to be staged in Shanghai was a right step in Chinese political reform, albeit far from what it should be. The answers from the spokesman of the Chinese Government were predictable, denying all the human right violations.
I was surprised to see that a Chinese woman voiced her discontent over maltreatment of her father by his local officials. I wonder how the Chinese officials would react to this and how this lady would be treated after the show.
TEXT: The sound of dissent here is like the sound of one hand clapping.
Having lived in Shanghai I can speak from first hand experience that the Chinese people have a long way to go on their treatment of their fellow country men and women. However, it will take a great deal of time for an entire nation to recover from the brainwashing that took away their individualism under Chairman Mao. Only when they are encouraged to think and act for themselves and question why things happen will they progress.
The control of the media is amazing. We could never access the BBC website as it was blocked by the government and Chinese people were banned from having satellite TV. Though of course you can get anything on the black market. Corruption is everywhere and until the government and the people begin to treat each other with respect any progress is going to be hampered by back-handers and suppression of the media. Good Luck China
Clare Jacklin, Wokingham, Berkshire
TEXT: China moves forward but still a long way to go.
Although China doesn't have an amazing human rights track record, I think it is rather silly for a British person to make a judgement about what they think are over zealous laws in China when here in Britain we can be put in jail for not buying a license to watch television!
Simon Wyndham, Malvern, Worcestershire UK
TEXT: If China abolishes the death penalty, think how awkward it would be for the US.
TEXT: If China did to the world what the US are doing we would be in deep trouble.
Jon, Milton Keynes
TEXT: Let's talk about the true China with its stinking human rights record. Not its growing wealth.
TEXT: One step at a time - would you have got Chinese officials in a debate like this 10 years ago?
Audience question: Will China surpass the US to achieve global economic supremacy in the next 20 to 40 years?
How will China and the rest of the world deal with the global environmental demands of a new economically booming China? The US population only make up about 3% of the world population and yet use over half the worlds resources every year, so how will the planet cope with the new demands from the huge Chinese population?
Robert Brannan, Eindhoven, Holland
TEXT: The Chinese will soon dominate the world.
TEXT: The Tiger is awake - and he wants his dinner!
Having lived in Shanghai I was shocked to find so many fake goods openly sold. Will it not harm China's future development if they allow such blatant profiteering to go on? In the market I could buy Tiffany jewellery, DVDs, Armani jeans and Gucci shoes and Prada bags. Stop swamping the market with shoddy goods then China can be a market leader in the world.
Clare Jacklin, Wokingham, Berkshire
TEXT: We need to accept China will become the world dominant power.
TEXT: The West thinks it's top dog but China will eat them for breakfast.
TEXT: China will be the most powerful country in the world within 20 years. This type of programme is educational.
General comments on the programme
As an American living in China, I was thrilled to hear such candid dialogue. Isabel Hilton said things I have wanted to scream from the top of my lungs, but have been unable to do in my position as a university teacher.
There is now no country in which the government is more in tune with the public like China. Unfortunately, the Chinese public is the most ill-informed and misled people of the world.
Sylvia Yu, Shanghai
It was absolutely fantastic to watch Question Time in Shanghai on the BBC last night. I suppose some deals would have been made between the BBC and the Chinese Government that overly sensitive issues were not to be discussed, e.g. the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. But I was very pleasantly surprised that the audience did raise some truly important issues like the rights to organise or participate in trade unions and the rights to protest, etc.
To my mind the programme itself was ground-breaking because I never imagined such an open discussion forum would have been permitted in China in my lifetime. But what is truly remarkable is that it is unlikely that the few Chinese people in audience who spoke out against the government would be arrested or "get into trouble" after the programme. It is not because their faces were shown on TV in the West, so they are safe, but there really is more and more room for freedom of expression in China. It is little and slow but real progress.
Also I agree with Chris Pattern that human rights for all race and creed could have been upheld if the Red Cross was allowed into prisons in China as well as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
Edmond Ng, London, UK
What an excellent panellist was Isobel Hilton. clear, articulate, deeply knowledgeable, and not afraid to stand up to the representatives of the Chinese establishment in a way that Chris Patten clearly could not.
Bill McCudden, Aylesbury, UK
I don't know about walking on eggs; it's so boring, the audience should be throwing eggs!
Paul Jones, Port Sunlight
I'm watching QT from Shanghai. As someone who has visited China a number of times in the course of work, I have quite a feel for the country, and how it functions. How brave to do the programme in the first place and how refreshing that the Chinese government should sanction it - and actively participate - and in a fashion that makes me, for one, admire their input and tolerance.
Harvey Elliott, North Ayrshire
The dignity being shown on this programme should be an inspiration to us all.
John Eden, Hampshire
Question Time - live from Shanghai.... OUTRAGEOUS. This is a total waste of licence fee money.
Dave H, Middlesbrough
Congratulations on your programme from Shanghai, which has just ended. The quality of debate was impressive, as was the openness of the Chinese representatives and audience members. The Chinese government is also to be warmly congratulated for its willingness to allow this programme to go out. I hope you get to do this again soon.
Andy Crick, Leafield, Oxfordshire
What a waste of time and money this evening. There are important issues in the UK. Deal with them.
Frank McGillion, Bromley
How refreshing to see the panellists and audience of Question Time this week so obviously exercising respect for the others by listening without wanting to butt in and not shaking their heads constantly about views that differ from their own. We in the UK have something to learn from these people. I'm enjoying this edition much more than the ones that come from the UK.
Jane Phillips, Purley
Please please please ask Chris Patten to come back to the UK and take over from Michael Howard who is OK, but is not a true statesman like Chris!
Stephen Ridgway, Ross On Wye
Chris Patten did a sterling job of brown-nosing the Chinese panel stooges and CCP plants in the audience, didn't he, as they clumsily deflected the questions and spouted the usual drivel. I fail to see the point in humouring them like this. It's not as if QT is going to add anything to any kind of snowballing of free-speech on the mainland.
Jack McNeill, York
Sincere congratulations to the BBC and its Question Time producers. The superbly balanced panel and its attentive audience produced a fascinating exploration of China-related issues and their universal significance. It also raised the exciting possibilities that may be created were the BBC able to repeat such a venture in a variety of other world-wide locations.
Tony Lamb, Burscough, Lancashire
A very enjoyable programme I thought tonight. It was good hearing from different people on the other side of the world, their thoughts and views on what is going on in China. I would like to see more editions of Question Time coming from other parts of the world. We would, I am sure, hear some very interesting views and comments from the panel and audience taking part.
Steve Fuller, Hove, East Sussex
The dignity being shown on this programme should be an inspiration to us all.
John Eden, Hampshire
I thought this was an interesting debate which showed what can be achieved internationally when American ideologues are kept out of it.
Trevor Batten, Amsterdam
Absolutely fantastic and ground-breaking programme! Hope there will be many more of these to come.
Marc Woodall, Exeter
Tip my hat to BBC. More than ever, the world today needs this kind of open, unbiased dialog/exchange.
Chunming Niu, USA
If 1.3 billion people rise to the same living standards as us in western Europe and the US, where we put extremely much pressure on the environment, what would happen with the planet then?
Johan Blomquist, Lund, Sweden
A groundbreaking programme from Shanghai. Congratulations! This is television at its most useful and a real coup for the BBC.
John Davis, Philadelphia
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