No Division of power will be granted
SHANGHAI - The Wall Street Journal's recent investigations - those parts that went into final print - paint a rather mild picture of the stressful situation in China, mainly concentrating on economic consequences of Xi's campaign. Your author believes, however, that the anti-corruption movement causes much more psychological stress, even anxiety or paranoia in all strata of Chinese society: Everyone knows someone who is corrupt, but few want to get involved in any of this. That's because China is not only cracking down on corruption, it is simultaneously going after the activists, democrats, and dissidents.
Lack of transparency
Let’s get this out of the way first: China is an economic superpower - rich and mighty. But there also loom deep-rooted political and social maladies which if not treated properly might compromise the country’s former economic successes. While the year 2013 saw over 110,000 cases of corrupt officials, Xi's campaign, now going into its second year, shows no sign of weariness. In fact, everyone seems suspicious, and the public can't wait to hear about the latest scandal or obscenity. Yet while punishing some individuals for obvious misconduct is in itself wise and recommendable, the campaign lacks major reforms of the system. Just this month another activist, Xu Zhiyong, was sentenced to four years in prison. He demanded transparency and the disclosures of politicians’ assets and earnings. That's not going to happen.
Grandly staged, but not sincere
Major breeding grounds for misconduct and abuse of officialdom are state-owned companies, public services, and higher education. In China, (some say based on its deep rooted Confucian way of life), gift giving, wining, dining, and doing favors, but also obedience, love for learning, and filial piety still determine much of the public life. This is amplified by the Communist Party who has mistaken itself for the state and constantly tells its subjects that the Chinese must be ruled by an authoritarian regime in order to prosper and that without the Party China would not work.
The Chinese government, essentially a party dictatorship with a snowball membership scheme, rejects any Western-style value systems like freedom of speech, human rights, the rule of law, and democracy, thus the division of power. It says that all those things do not work for the Chinese people because they are different.
That’s why Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, although necessary to remove the worst party offenders, is accompanied by an equally reckless crackdown on dissidents, democrats, and activists. It is rather sad.
All crows are black
Everyone in China is scared and intimidated by the idea of being accused of corruption (most are corrupt in order to get by) or of being labeled a traitor. On a cultural level, China’s most famous celebrities are either dissidents or crooks. Examples of the former are the Dalai Lama (exiled Tibetan leader), Liu Xiaobo (Nobel peace prize laureate), Ai Weiwei (world-renowned artist), and, perhaps, Chen Guangcheng (the blind peace activist); examples of the latter are Bo Xilai, Liu Zhijun (the former railway minister) and his clique (incl. Bai Zhongren, who recently committed suicide), and Zhang Yimou (who fathered three, maybe more, illegal children).
Xi’s crackdown, because of its intensity, may one day backfire on him, once his clan comes under investigations, most likely by foreign media (as in the case of the wealth of Wen Jiabao’s family, exposed by The Wall Street Journal). Mr. Xi obviously cannot crack down on his friends, relatives, and allies who might take revenge and incriminate his party leadership.
In addition, the millions of influential Chinese who hold foreign passports might be difficult to depress, because once they smell dangers they simply go abroad. In many cases, Chinese bosses hold posts in China in order to rake in the cash they will spend on real estate or their kids' education abroad. The Guardian, a British newspaper, recently reported about how China's Party officials transfer huge sums of money to Caribbean offshore havens.
Beware of the foreigners
Which leaves Xi’s government with another complicated situation: the corruption involving foreign multinationals. For over 30 years now China’s red capitalism was an (almost) lawless "wild-wild-east" scenario, and paying bribes to key decision makers (not necessary in cash, but in form of titles, luxury gifts, travels, donations, etc.) was a prerequisite for entering the market. Most firms were doing it, although few would dare to admit that.
JPMorgan, the investment bank, had a deliberate strategy to build influence in China buy paying off the sons and daughters of Chinese top politicians. GlaxoSmithKline, a British drug giant, was accused of corruption too. All this is not surprising; in China, it actually makes much sense to bribe powerful officials or doing something nice for their clan. That's because China isn't ruled by law, it is ruled by its leaders.
Xi Jinping’s government does not want to involve foreigners in its anti-corruption movement because it fears a Western backlash. But in all likelihood, many foreign firms are part of China’s successes as well as its problems.
Last, needless to say, Mr. Xi's anti-corruption campaign is mainly limited to provincial and local governments, and, sometimes, undesirable revolutionaries like Bo Xilai and his murderous wife Gu Kailai (she killed Neil Heywood, a British businessman who threatened to expose existential family secrets). The government's anti-corruption unit, however, has yet to touch a single member of the Party’s standing committee, the Central government, or their well-connected families. The rulers themselves are invisible to the mighty hammer of justice, yet it might squash any one of them accidentally.
Image credit: Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, Russia (2013), Kaliva/Shutterstock.com
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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