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Welcome to North Korea

May 5, 2012 1 comment





North Korea 2011 Parade

North Korea Military Parade 15/4/12

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

조선민주주의인민공화국
Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk[1]
Flag Emblem
Motto: 강성대국
(English: Powerful and Prosperous Nation)
Anthem: 

Play sound
The National Anthem of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Converted MIDI).ogg

애국가
(tr.: “Aegukka“)
(English: “The Patriotic Song”)

Capital
(and largest city)
Pyongyang
39°2′N 125°45′E
Official language(s) Korean
Official scripts Chosŏn’gŭl
Ethnic groups Korean
Demonym North Korean,Korean
Government Juche unitarysingle-party state
 – First Chairman of the Defence Commission[a] Kim Jong-un
 – First Secretary of the Workers’ Party Kim Jong-un
 – Supreme Commander of the People’s Army Kim Jong-un[b]
 – Chairman of the Presidium of Assembly Kim Yong-nam[c]
 – Premier Choe Yong-rim
Legislature Supreme People’s Assembly
Establishment
 – Independence declared March 1, 1919
 – Liberation August 15, 1945
 – Formal declaration September 9, 1948
Area
 – Total 120,540 km2 (98th)
46,528 sq mi
 – Water (%) 4.87
Population
 – 2011 estimate 24,051,218[2] (51st)
 – 2011 census 25,000,000[3]
 – Density 198.3/km2
513.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011[4] estimate
 – Total $45 billion
 – Per capita $2,400
GDP (nominal) 2011[5] estimate
 – Total $32.7 billion
 – Per capita $1,800[6]
HDI (2011) 0.618 (not rated)
Currency North Korean won(₩) (KPW)
Time zone Korea Standard Time (UTC+9)
Date formats yy, yyyy년 mm월 dd일
yy, yyyy/mm/dd (CE–1911CE)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code KP
Internet TLD .kp
Calling code 850
^ a. The DPRK Constitution defines the Chairman of the NDC as the “supreme leader” of the DPRK.
^ b. Kim-Jong-un, described as “Supreme Leader of the party, state and army” by North Korean state media on December 29, 2011,[7] was named Supreme Commander of the KPA on December 30, 2011 but has not yet succeeded to his father as Chairman of the NDC and General Secretary of the WPK.[8]
^ c. Kim Yong-nam is the “head of state for foreign affairs”. The position of president (formerly head of state) was written out of the constitution in 1998, andKim Il-sung (who died in 1994) was given the appellationEternal President in its preamble.
This article contains Koreantext. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbolsinstead of Hangul or Hanja.

Coordinates40°00′N 127°00′ENorth Korea (About this sound listen), officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRKChosŏn’gŭl: 조선민주주의인민공화국), is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. The Amnok, or Yalu, and the Tumen rivers form the border between North Korea and China. A section of the Tumen River in the far northeast is the border with Russia.

The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire until it was annexed by Japan after the Russo-Japanese War in 1910. It was divided into Soviet- and American-occupied zones in 1945, after the end of World War II. North Korea refused to participate in a United Nations–supervised election held in the south in 1948, which led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones. North and South Korea each claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean Peninsula, which led to the Korean War of 1950. The Armistice Agreement of 1953 ended the fighting; but the two countries are officially still at war against each other, for a peace treaty was never signed.[9] Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.[10]

North Korea is a single-party state under a united front led by the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP).[11][12][13][14] The country’s government follows the Juche ideology of self-reliance, developed by the country’s first and only PresidentKim Il-sung. After his death, Kim Il-sung was declared the country’s Eternal PresidentJuche became the official state ideology when the country adopted a new constitution in 1972,[15]though Kim Il-sung had been using it to form policy since at least as early as 1955.[16] After the collapse of the Soviet Union and a series of natural disasters, a famine occurred, causing the death of 900,000 to 2 million people.[17] Facing these circumstances, leader Kim Jong-Il adopted Songun, or a “military-first” policy in order to strengthen the country and its government.[18]

Many outside organizations describe North Korea as a totalitariansingle-party Stalinist dictatorship[12][13][19][20][21] with an elaborate cult of personality around the Kim family and one of the lowest-rankinghuman rights records of any country.[22] The North Korean government denies this.[23] North Korea is one of the most militarized nations,[24][25] with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitarypersonnel. It is a nuclear-weapons state and has an active space program.[26]

Contents

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History

Main article: History of North Korea

Before the division

Main article: History of Korea

Jikji, the first known book printed with movable metal type in 1377. Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.

Korean history begins with the founding of Jo-seon (often known as “Gojoseon” to prevent confusion with another dynasty founded in the 14th century; the prefix Go- means ‘old’ or ‘earlier’) in 2333 BC byDangun, according to Korean foundation mythology.[27] Gojoseon expanded until it controlled northern Korean Peninsula and some parts of Manchuria. After many conflicts with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

In the early centuries of the Common Era, BuyeoOkjeoDongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various states, GoguryeoBaekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as Three Kingdoms of Korea. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North South States Period, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo.

In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture thrived. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla’s neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russian Far East. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

The peninsula was united by Emperor Taejo of Goryeo in 936. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world’s oldest movable metal type printing press.[28] TheMongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. After nearly 30 years of war, Goryeo continued to rule Korea, though as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the Mongol Empire collapsed, severe political strife followed and the Goryeo Dynasty was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.

Gyeongbok Palace is the largest of theFive Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty.

King Taejo declared the new name of Korea as “Joseon” in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of Hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country.

Between 1592 and 1598, the Japanese invaded KoreaToyotomi Hideyoshi led the forces and tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was eventually repelled by the Righteous army and assistance from Ming Dynasty China. This war also saw the rise of Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his renowned “turtle ship“. In the 1620s and 1630s, Joseon suffered from invasions by the Manchu who eventually conquered all of China.

After another series of wars against Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo particularly led a new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty.

However, the latter years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by a dependence on China for external affairs and isolation from the outside world. During the 19th century, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the name the “Hermit Kingdom“. The Joseon Dynasty tried to protect itself against Western imperialism, but was eventually forced to open trade. After the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Korea was occupied by Japan (1910–1945).

Division of Korea

Main article: Division of Korea

North Korean war monument in Pyongyang.

In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea which ended with Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel in accordance with a United Nations arrangement, to be administered by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. The history of North Korea formally begins with the establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic in 1948.

In August 1945, the Soviet Army established a Soviet Civil Authority to rule the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula until a domestic regime, friendly to the USSR, could be established. This became governed by the Provisional People’s Committee for North Korea through 1948. After the Soviet forces’ departure in 1948, the main agenda in the following years was unification of Korea until the consolidation of Syngman Rhee regime in the South with American military support and the suppression of the October 1948 insurrection ended hopes that the country could be reunified by way of Communist revolution in the South. In 1949, a military intervention into South Korea was considered by Kim Il-sung, but failed to receive support from the Soviet Union, which had played a key role in the establishment of the country.[29]

The withdrawal of most United States forces from the South in June dramatically weakened the Southern regime and encouraged Kim Il-sung to rethink an invasion plan against the South.[29] The idea itself was first rejected by Joseph Stalin but with the development of Soviet nuclear weapons, Mao Zedong‘s victory in China and the Chinese indication that it would send troops and other support to North Korea, Stalin approved an invasion which led to the Korean War.[30]

Korean War

Main article: Korean War

Korean War Armistice Agreement

After Korea was divided by the UN, the two Korean powers both tried to control the whole Korea under their respective governments. This led to escalating border conflicts on the 38th parallel and attempts to negotiate elections for the whole of Korea.[31] These attempts ended when the military of North Korea invaded the South on June 25, 1950, leading to a full-scale civil war. With endorsement from the United Nations, countries allied with the United States intervened on behalf of South Korea. After rapid advances in a South Korean counterattack, North-allied Chinese forces intervened on behalf of North Korea, shifting the balance of the war. Fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea. More than 2 million civilians and soldiers were killed in the war.

Although some have referred to the conflict as a civil war, other important factors were involved.[32] The Korean War was also the first armed confrontation of the Cold War and set the standard for many later conflicts. It created the idea of a proxy war, where the two superpowers would fight in another country, forcing the people in that country to suffer most of the destruction and death involved in a war between such large nations. The superpowers avoided descending into an all-out war against one another, as well as the mutual use of nuclear weapons. It also expanded the Cold War, which to that point had mostly been concerned with Europe. A heavily guarded demilitarized zone on the 38th parallel still divides the peninsula, and an anti-Communist and anti-North Korea sentiment remains in South Korea.

Since the Armistice in 1953, relations between the North Korean government and South Korea, the European UnionCanada, the United States, and Japan have remained tense, and hostile incidents occur often.[33][page needed] North and South Korea signed the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration in 2000, in which they promised to seek peaceful reunification.[34] On October 4, 2007, the leaders of North and South Korea pledged to hold summit talks to officially declare the war over and reaffirmed the principle of mutual non-aggression.[35]

Late 20th century

DPRK soldier pointing to the DMZ

The relative peace between the south and the north was interrupted by border skirmishes and assassination attempts. The North failed in several assassination attempts on South Korean leaders, most notably in 1968, 1974 and the Rangoon bombing in 1983; tunnels were frequently found under the DMZ and war nearly broke out over the Axe Murder Incident at Panmunjeom in 1976.[36] In 1973, extremely secret, high-level contacts began to be conducted through the offices of the Red Cross, but ended after the Panmunjeom incident with little progress having been made and the idea that the two Koreas would join international organisations separately.[37]

In the late 1990s, with the South having transitioned to liberal democracy, the success of the Nordpolitik policy, and power in the North having been taken up by Kim Il-sung’s son Kim Jong-il, the two nations began to engage publicly for the first time, with the South declaring its Sunshine Policy.[38][39]

21st century

Globe icon.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page(November 2010)

In 2002, United States president George W. Bush labeled North Korea part of an “axis of evil” and an “outpost of tyranny“. The highest-level contact the government has had with the United States was with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who made a visit to Pyongyang in 2000,[40] but the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.[5] By 2006, approximately 37,000 American soldiers remained in South Korea, although by June 2009 this number had fallen to around 30,000.[41][42] Kim Jong-il privately stated his acceptance of U.S. troops on the peninsula, even after a possible reunification.[43] Publicly, North Korea strongly demands the removal of American troops from Korea.[43]

On June 13, 2009, the Associated Press reported that in response to new UN sanctions, North Korea declared it would progress with its uranium enrichment program. This marked the first time the DPRK has publicly acknowledged that it is conducting a uranium enrichment program.[44] In August 2009, former US president Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong-il to secure the release of two US journalists, who had been sentenced for entering the country illegally.[45] Current U.S. President Barack Obama‘s position towards North Korea has been to resist making deals with North Korea for the sake of defusing tension, a policy known as “strategic patience.”[46]

On November 23, 2010, North Korea fired about 170 rounds of artillery on Yeonpyeong Island and the surrounding waters near the Yellow Sea border, with some 90 shells landing on the island. The attack resulted in the deaths of two marines and two civilians on the South Korean side, and fifteen marines and at least three civilians wounded.[47] The South fired back 80 shells, with unknown effects. North Korean news sources alleged that the North Korean actions, described as “a prompt and powerful physical strike”, were in response to provocation from South Korea that had held an artillery exercise in the disputed waters south of the island.[48]

On the 17th of December 2011 the Supreme Leader of North KoreaKim Jong-il died from a heart attack.[49] His death was reported by the Korean Central News Agency around 08:30 local time with the newscaster announcing his youngest son Kim Jong-un as his successor.

The announcement placed South Korean and United States troops on high alert, with many politicians from the global community stating that Kim’s death leaves a great deal of uncertainty in the country’s future.[49] North Korea was put into a state of semi-alert, with foreigners put under suspicion and asked to leave.[50]

Geography

Lake Ch’ŏnji at Mount Paektu, North Korea’s highest point

North Korea occupies the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula, lying between latitudes 37° and 43°N, and longitudes 124° and 131°E. It covers an area of 120,540 square kilometres (46,541 sq mi). North Korea shares land borders with China and Russia to the north, and borders South Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone. To its west are the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay, and to its east lies Japan across theSea of Japan (East Sea of Korea). The highest point in North Korea is Paektu-san Mountain at 2,744 metres (9,003 ft). The longest river is the Amnok River which flows for 790 kilometres (491 mi).[51] The capital and largest city is Pyongyang; other major cities include Kaesong in the south, Sinuiju in the northwest, Wonsan and Hamhung in the east and Chongjin in the northeast.

Topography

Topography of North Korea

Further information: Korean Peninsula

Early European visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled “a sea in a heavy gale” because of the many successive mountain ranges that crisscross the peninsula.[52] Some 80% of North Korea is composed of mountains and uplands, separated by deep and narrow valleys, with all of the peninsula’s mountains with elevations of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) or more located in North Korea. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east. A great majority of the population lives in the plains and lowlands.

The highest point in North Korea is Baekdu Mountain which is a volcanic mountain near the Chinese border with basalt lava plateau with elevations between 1,400 and 2,000 metres (4,600 and 6,600 ft) above sea level.[52] The Hamgyong Range, located in the extreme northeastern part of the peninsula, has many high peaks including Gwanmosan at approximately 1,756 m (5,761 ft).

Other major ranges include the Rangrim Mountains, which are located in the north-central part of North Korea and run in a north-south direction, making communication between the eastern and western parts of the country rather difficult; and the Kangnam Range, which runs along the North Korea–China border. Mount Kumgang, or Diamond Mountain, (approximately 1,638 metres or 5,374 feet) in the Taebaek Range, which extends into South Korea, is famous for its scenic beauty.[52]

For the most part, the plains are small. The most extensive are the Pyongyang and Chaeryong plains, each covering about 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi). Because the mountains on the east coast drop abruptly to the sea, the plains are even smaller there than on the west coast. Unlike neighboring Japan or northern China, North Korea experiences few severe earthquakes.

Climate

Main article: Climate of North Korea

North Korea has a continental climate with four distinct seasons.[53] Long winters bring bitter cold and clear weather interspersed with snow storms as a result of northern and northwestern winds that blow fromSiberia. Average snowfall is 37 days during the winter. The weather is likely to be particularly harsh in the northern, mountainous regions.

Summer tends to be short, hot, humid, and rainy because of the southern and southeastern monsoon winds that bring moist air from the Pacific Ocean. Typhoons affect the peninsula on an average of at least once every summer.[53] Spring and autumn are transitional seasons marked by mild temperatures and variable winds and bring the most pleasant weather. Natural hazards include late spring droughts which often are followed by severe flooding. There are occasional typhoons during the early fall.

North Korea’s climate is relatively temperate. Most of the country is classified as type Dwa in the Köppen climate classification scheme, with warm summers and cold, dry winters. In summer there is a short rainy season called changma.[54] On August 7, 2007, the most devastating floods in 40 years caused the North Korean government to ask for international help. NGOs, such as the Red Cross, asked people to raise funds because they feared a humanitarian catastrophe.[55]

Administrative divisions

Map Namea Chosŏn’gŭl Hanja Administrative Seat
Capital city (chikhalsi)a
1 Pyongyang 평양직할시 平壤直轄市 (Chung-guyok)
Special city (teukbyeolsi)a
2 Rason 라선특별시 羅先特別市 (Rajin-guyok)
Provinces (do)a
3 South Pyongan 평안남도 平安南道 Pyongsong
4 North Pyongan 평안북도 平安北道 Sinuiju
5 Chagang 자강도 慈江道 Kanggye
6 South Hwanghae 황해남도 黃海南道 Haeju
7 North Hwanghae 황해북도 黃海北道 Sariwon
8 Kangwon 강원도 江原道 Wonsan
9 South Hamgyong 함경남도 咸鏡南道 Hamhung
10 North Hamgyong 함경북도 咸鏡北道 Chongjin
11 Ryanggang * 량강도 兩江道 Hyesan
* – Rendered in Southern dialects as “Yanggang” (양강도).

Largest cities of North Korea
2008 Census[3]

Rank City name Administrative division Pop.
Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Hamhung
Hamhung
1 Pyongyang Pyongyang Capital City 3,255,288 Chongjin
Chongjin
Nampho
Nampho
2 Hamhung South Hamgyong Province 768,551
3 Chongjin North Hamgyong Province 667,929
4 Nampho South Pyongan Province 366,815
5 Wonsan Kangwon Province 363,127
6 Sinuiju North Pyongan Province 359,341
7 Tanchon South Hamgyong Province 345,875
8 Kaechon South Pyongan Province 319,554
9 Kaesong North Hwanghae Province 308,440
10 Sariwon North Hwanghae Province 307,764

Government and politics

The Juche Tower (‘Tower ofJuche Idea’).

North Korea is a self-described Juche (self-reliant) state,[56] described by some observers as a de facto absolute monarchy[57][58][59] or “hereditary dictatorship”[60] with a pronounced cult of personality organized aroundKim Il-sung (the founder of North Korea and the country’s only president) and his late son, Kim Jong-il. There are also those who reject the view that North Korea is a communist state, instead claiming that the North Korean leadership uses communism as a justification for their rule.[61][62][63] Following Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of “Eternal President“, and was entombed in the vast Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in central Pyongyang.[64]

Although the office of the President is ceremonially held by the deceased Kim Il-sung,[65][66][67] the Supreme Leader until his death in December 2011 was Kim Jong-il, who was General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People’s Assembly, currently led by Chairman Kim Yong-nam. The other senior government figure is Premier Choe Yong-rim.

The structure of the government is described in the Constitution of North Korea, the latest version of which is from 2009 and officially rejects North Korea’s founding ideology of communism.[68] The governing party by law is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition of the Workers’ Party of Korea and two other smaller parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly; although they have negligible power, as the leader holds autocratic control over the nation’s affairs.

In June 2009, it was reported in South Korean media that intelligence indicated that the country’s next leader would be Kim Jong-un, the youngest of Kim Jong-il’s three sons.[69] This was confirmed on 19 December 2011, following Kim Jong-il’s death.[49][70]

Political expression is tightly controlled in North Korea. Supporters of the government who deviate from the government line are subject to reeducation in sections of labor camps set aside for that purpose. Those who are successfully rehabilitated may reassume responsible government positions on their release.[71] Troublesome political dissidents, factionalists and class enemies, who are considered irredeemable are incarcerated together with any close family members or children born in the camp in “Total Control Zones” for life at hard labor. Labor camps in North Korea are actually areas of the country set aside for that purpose, Camp 22 (also known as Kwan-li-so No.22 Haengyong) is 31 miles by 25 miles with a population of about 50,000. Those who attempt to escape or violate camp rules are executed or sent to a separate prison within the camp. The labor camps are reserved for political prisoners; common criminals are incarcerated in a separate system.[72] There are 6 such areas in the northern and northeastern portion of North Korea.[73]

Factionalists or enemies of class, whoever they are, their seed must be eliminated through three generations. Kim Il Sung (1972)[72]

Foreign relations

Kim Jong-il and Vladimir Putin in 2002.

North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People’s Republic of China and Russia. The fall of communism in eastern Europe in 1989, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, resulted in a devastating drop in aid to North Korea from Russia, although China continues to provide substantial assistance. North Korea continues to have strong ties with its socialist southeast Asian allies in Vietnam andLaos, as well as with Cambodia.[74] North Korea has started installing a concrete and barbed wire fence on its northern border, in response to China’s wish to curb refugees fleeing from North Korea. Previously the border between China and North Korea had only been lightly patrolled.[75]

As a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, the Six-party talks were established to find a peaceful solution to the growing tension between the two Korean governments, the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the United States.

On July 17, 2007, United Nations inspectors verified the shutdown of five North Korean nuclear facilities, according to the February 2007 agreement.[76]

On October 4, 2007, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an 8-point peace agreement, on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.[35]

The United States and South Korea previously designated the North as a state sponsor of terrorism.[77] The 1983 bombing that killed members of the South Korean government and the destruction of a South Korean airliner have been attributed to North Korea.[78] North Korea has also admitted responsibility for the kidnapping of 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, five of whom were returned to Japan in 2002.[79] On October 11, 2008, the United States removed North Korea from its list of states that sponsor terrorism.[80]

In 2009, relationships between North and South Korea increased in intensity; North Korea had been reported to have deployed missiles,[81] ended its former agreements with South Korea,[82] and threatened South Korea and the United States not to interfere with a satellite launch it had planned.[83] North and South Korea are still technically at war (having never signed a peace treaty after the Korean War) and share the world’s most heavily fortified border.[84] On May 27, 2009, North Korean media declared that the Korean Armistice was no longer valid due to the South Korean government’s pledge to “definitely join” the Proliferation Security Initiative.[citation needed] To further complicate and intensify strain between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010, killing 46 seamen, is as of May 20, 2010 claimed by a multi-national research team[85] to have been caused by a North Korean torpedo, which the North denies. South Korea agreed with the findings from the research group and President Lee Myung-bak declared in May 2010 that Seoul would cut all trade with North Korea as part of measures primarily aimed at striking back at North Korea diplomatically and financially.[86] As a result of this, North Korea severed all ties, completely abrogated the previous pact of non aggression and expelled all South Koreans from a joint industrial zone in Kaesong.[87] On November 23, 2010, North Korea attacked Yeonpyeong Island, further deteriorating the diplomatic relations with the South and other nations.[88]

Most of the foreign embassies connecting with diplomatic ties to North Korea are situated in Beijing rather than Pyongyang.[89]

Society

Human rights

Sneaker-wearing Korean youth walking in Pyongyang.

A uniformed civilian man riding a bicycle in Pyongyang.

Multiple international human rights organizations accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation.[90] Amnesty International reports of severe restrictions on the freedom of association, expression and movement, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment resulting in death, and executions.[91] The organization demands the closure of prison camps, where 200,000 political prisoners and their families exist in “the most inhuman conditions imaginable”.[92] North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people” by Human Rights Watch, due to the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms.[93]

Bribery became prevalent throughout the country.[94] In the 1990’s just listening to South Korean radio could result in capital punishment.[citation needed] However, many North Koreans now illegally wear clothes of South Korean origin, listen to Southern music, watch South Korean videotapes and even receive Southern broadcasts.[95][96]

Political prison camps

Political prison camps in North Korea

North Korean defectors have testified to the existence of prisons and concentration camps[97] and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labour, and forced abortions.[98] According to Amnesty International around 200,000 prisoners (about 0.85% of the population) are held in six large political prison camps,[99]being in operation since the 1950s. They are forced to work in conditions approaching slavery and are frequently subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.[100] Camp 14 in Kaechon,[101] Camp 15 in Yodok[102] and Camp 18 in Bukchang[103] are described in detailed testimonies.[98] People suspected not to be loyal to the regime, e. g. because they are Christians or because they criticized the leadership,[99] are deported to these camps without trial,[104] often with their whole family and mostly without any chance to be released.[105] The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) estimates that over 10,000 people die in North Korean prison camps every year.[106]

Personality cult

The North Korean government exercises control over many aspects of the nation’s culture, and this control is used to perpetuate a cult of personality surrounding Kim Il-sung, and, to a lesser extent, Kim Jong-il. While visiting North Korea in 1979, journalist Bradley Martin noted that nearly all music, art, and sculpture that he observed glorified “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, whose personality cult was then being extended to his son, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.[107] There is even widespread belief that Kim Il-sung “created the world”, and Kim Jong-il could “control the weather”.[107]

A propaganda poster with Kim Il-sung’s official portrait

The song “No Motherland Without You” (당신이없으면 조국도없다), sung by the North Korean Army Choir, was created especially for Kim Jong-il and is one of the most popular tunes in the country. Kim Il-sung is still officially revered as the nation’s “Eternal President”. Several landmarks in North Korea are named for Kim Il-sung, including Kim Il-sung UniversityKim Il-sung Stadium, and Kim Il-sung Square. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son.[108] Kim Il-sung rejected the notion that he had created a cult around himself, and accused those who suggested this of “factionalism“.[107]

Critics maintain this Kim Jong-il personality cult was inherited from his father, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il was often the center of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country.[109] Kim Jong-il’s personality cult, although significant, was not as extensive as his father’s. In 2004, some of his official portraits were taken down from public buildings.[110] One point of view is that Kim Jong-il’s cult of personality was solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage.[111] Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view,[112][113][114][115][116] while North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship.[117]

Korean reunification

Main article: Korean reunification

North Korea’s policy is to seek reunification without what it sees as outside interference, through a federal structure retaining each side’s leadership and systems. Both North and South Korea signed the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration in which both sides made promises to seek out a peaceful reunification.[118] The Democratic Federal Republic of Korea is a proposed state first mentioned by then North Korean president Kim Il-sung on October 10, 1980, proposing a federation between North and South Korea in which the respective political systems would initially remain.[119]

Military

Main article: Korean People’s Army

Korean People’s Army soldiers observing the South Korean side of the DMZ

The Korean People’s Army (KPA) is the name for the collective armed personnel of the North Korean military. It has five branches: Ground ForceNaval ForceAir ForceSpecial Operations Force, and Rocket Force. According to the U.S. Department of State, North Korea has the fourth-largest army in the world, at an estimated 1.21 million armed personnel, with about 20% of men aged 17–54 in the regular armed forces.[120] North Korea has the highest percentage of military personnel per capita of any nation in the world, with approximately one enlisted soldier for every 25 citizens.[24][121]

Koksan, one of North Korea’s principal heavy artillery pieces. This example was captured in Iraq.

Military strategy is designed for insertion of agents and sabotage behind enemy lines in wartime,[120] with much of the KPA’s forces deployed along the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone. The Korean People’s Army operates a very large amount of equipment, including 4,060 tanks, 2,500 APCs, 17,900 artillery pieces, 11,000 air defence guns and some 10,000 MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles[122] in the Ground force; at least 915 vessels in the Navy and 1,748 aircraft in the Air Force,[123] of which 478 are fighters and 180 are bombers.[124] North Korea also has the largest special forces in the world, as well as the largest submarine fleet.[125] The equipment is a mixture of World War II vintage vehicles and small arms, widely proliferated Cold War technology, and more modern Soviet or locally produced weapons. In line with its asymmetric warfare strategy, North Korea has also developed a wide range of unconventional techniques and equipment, such as GPS jammers,[126] stealth paint,[127] midget submarines and human torpedoes,[128] a vast array of chemical and biological weapons,[129] and anti-personnel lasers.[130] According to official North Korean media, military expenditures for 2010 amount to 15.8% of the state budget.[131]

North Korea has active nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs and has been subject to United Nations Security Council resolutions 1695 of July 2006, 1718 of October 2006, and 1874 of June 2009, for carrying out both missile and nuclear tests. North Korea probably has fissile material for up to nine nuclear weapons,[132] and has the capability to deploy nuclear warheads on intermediate-range ballistic missiles.[133]

Economy

Main article: Economy of North Korea

An image of the Korean Peninsula at night rendered fromDMSP observations. The disparity in illumination levels is an indication of the differences between the North and South in population and, mostly, energy usage.[134][135]

North Korea has an industrialised, near-autarkic, highly centralized command economy. Of the five remaining Communist states in the world, North Korea is one of only two (along with Cuba) with an almost entirely government-planned, state-owned economy. The Central Planning Committee prepares, supervises and implements economic plans, while a General Bureau of Provincial Industry in each region is responsible for the management of local manufacturing facilities, production, resource allocation and sales.[136]

North Korea’s isolation policy means that international trade is highly restricted. North Korea passed a law in 1984 allowing for foreign investment through joint ventures,[137] but failed to attract any significant investment. In 1991, it established the Rason Economic Special Zone,[138] in an attempt to attract foreign investment from China and Russia. Chinese and Russian companies have purchased rights to use the ports at Rason. Chinese investors are renovating a road from Rason to China,[139] and Russian railway workers are renovating the railway from Rason to Russia, from where it continues onto the Trans-Siberian Railway.[140]

Until 1998, the United Nations published HDI and GDP per capita figures for North Korea, which stood at a medium level of human development at 0.766 (ranked 75th) and a GDP per capita of $4,058.[141] The average salary was about $47 per month in 2004.[142] The average official salary in 2011 was equivalent to $2 per month while the actual monthly income seems to be around $15 because most North Koreans earn money in illegal small businesses: trade, subsistence farming, and handicrafts. The illegal economy is dominated by women because men have to attend their places of official work even though most of the factories are non-functioning.[143] It is estimated that in the early 2000s, the average North Korean family drew some 80% of its income from small businesses that are legal in market economies but illegal in North Korea.[144]

Despite substantial economic problems, quality of life was improving and wages were rising steadily in 2007.[145] Small-scale private markets, known as janmadang, exist throughout the country and provide the population with imported food and commodities ranging from cosmetics to motorcycles in exchange for money.[146][147] In 2009, the government carried out a currency redenomination with the aim to curb free market activity across the country, but the attempt failed, causing inflation rates to skyrocket, and eventually led to the lifting of the ban on free market trade.[148]

Food rations, housing, healthcare, and education are offered from the state for free,[149] and the payment of taxes has been abolished since April 1, 1974.[150] In order to increase productivity from agriculture and industry, since the 1960s the North Korean government has introduced a number of management systems such as the Taean work system.[151] In the 21st century, North Korea’s GDP growth has been slow but steady, although in recent years, growth has gradually accelerated to 3.7% in 2008, the fastest pace in almost a decade, largely due to a sharp growth of 8.2% in the agricultural sector.[152]

GDP Growth by year[152][153]
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
1.3% 3.7% 1.2% 1.8% 2.2% 1.0% 1.6% 1.8% 3.7% 3.7%

Hungju collective chicken farm, Chagang Province.

According to estimates from 2002, the dominant sector in the North Korean economy is industry (43.1%), followed by services (33.6%) and agriculture (23.3%). In 2004, it was estimated that agriculture employed 37% of the workforce while industry and services employed the remaining 63%.[5] Major industries include military products, machine building, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, food processing and tourism.Iron ore and coal production are among the few sectors where North Korea performs significantly better than its southern neighbour – the DPRK produces about 10 times larger amounts of each resource.[154]

Rice yields are about 2.8 tonnes per hectare, about half that in most countries, with soil degradation, lack of fertilisers, and limited mechanisation blamed.[155] In 2005, North Korea was ranked by the FAO as an estimated 10th in the production of fresh fruit[156] and as an estimated 19th in the production of apples.[157] It has substantial natural resources and is the world’s 18th largest producer of iron and zinc, having the22nd largest coal reserves in the world. It is also the 15th largest fluorite producer and 12th largest producer of copper and salt in Asia. Other major natural resources in production include leadtungstengraphite,magnesitegoldpyritesfluorspar, and hydropower.[5]

Private commerce

Generic paracetamol tablets made in the DPRK by a joint venture company

FamilyMart store in Kaesong Industrial Region, North Korea’s light industry center.

In 1991, North Korea started experimenting with private capitalism in the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone, and in 2002 also set up the Kaesong Industrial Region.[158] A small number of other areas have been designated as Special Administrative Regions. China and South Korea are the biggest trade partners of North Korea, with trade with China increasing 15% to US$1.6 billion in 2005, and trade with South Korea increasing 50% to over 1 billion for the first time in 2005.[159] China is North Korea’s closest economic partner, with 73% of North Korea’s foreign trade being conducted with this country.[160]

In 2000, Centre for the Study of the Capitalist System was established.[161] Increasingly more foreign-invested joint ventures have been set up since 2002.[162] The Pyongyang Business School was established by the Swiss government to help teach students business management.[163]

A small number of capitalistic elements are gradually spreading from the trial area, including a number of advertising billboards along certain highways. Recent visitors have reported that the number of open-air farmers’ markets has increased in Kaesong and Pyongyang, as well as along the China-North Korea border, bypassing the food rationing system. In addition to food aid, China reportedly provides an estimated 80 to 90 percent of North Korea’s oil imports at “friendly prices” that are sharply lower than the world market price.[164]

North Korea also has a cartoon animation industry, sub-contracting work from South Korean animation studios.[165]

Tourism

Main article: Tourism in North Korea

The Mount Kumgang Tourist Region was popular among South Korean tourists until its suspension in 2008

Tourism in North Korea is organized by the state-owned Korea International Travel Company. All tourists/visitors are constantly accompanied by one or two “guides”, who usually speak the tourist’s native language. While tourism has increased over the last few years, tourists from Western countries remain few.

Most visitors come from China, Russia, and Japan. Russian citizens from the Asian part of Russia prefer North Korea as a tourist destination because of the relatively low prices, lack of pollution, and warmer climate. For citizens of South Korea, it is almost impossible to get a visa to North Korea; they can get “entry permits” to special tourist areas designated for South Koreans, such as Kaesong. United States citizens were also subject to visa restrictions, allowed to visit only during the yearly Arirang Festival; these restrictions were lifted in January 2010. Fewer than 2,500 United States citizens have visited North Korea since 1953.[166]

In the area of Mount Kumgang, the company Hyundai established and operates a special tourist area. Travel to this area is possible for South Koreans and United States citizens, but only in organized groups from South Korea. A special administrative region, the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region, exists for this purpose. Trips to the region were suspended after a South Korean woman who wandered into a controlled military zone was shot dead by border guards in late 2008.[167] When tours had not resumed by May 2010, North Korea announced that it would seize South Korean real estate assets in the region.[168]

Famine

Main article: North Korean famine

In the 1990s North Korea faced significant economic disruptions, including a series of natural disasters, economic mismanagement and serious resource shortages after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. These resulted in a shortfall of staple grain output of more than 1 million tons from what the country needs to meet internationally accepted minimum dietary requirements.[169] The North Korean famine known as “Arduous March” resulted in the deaths of between 300,000 and 800,000 North Koreans per year during the three year famine, peaking in 1997.[17] The deaths were most likely caused by famine-related illnesses such as pneumoniatuberculosis, and diarrhea rather than starvation.[17]

In 2006, Amnesty International reported that a national nutrition survey conducted by the North Korean government, the World Food Programme, and UNICEF found that 7% of children were severely malnourished; 37% were chronically malnourished; 23.4% were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anaemic as the result of the lingering effect of the famine. The inflation caused by some of the 2002 economic reforms, including the Songun or “Military-first” policy, was cited for creating the increased price of basic foods.[170]

The history of Japanese assistance to North Korea has been marked with challenges; from a large pro-Pyongyang community of Koreans in Japan to public outrage over the 1998 North Korean missile launch and revelations regarding the abduction of Japanese citizens.[171] In June 1995 an agreement was reached that the two countries would act jointly.[171] South Korea would provide 150,000 MT of grain in unmarked bags, and Japan would provide 150,000 MT gratis and another 150,000 MT on concessional terms.[171] In October 1995 and January 1996, North Korea again approached Japan for assistance. On these two occasions, both of which came at crucial moments in the evolution of the famine, opposition from both South Korea and domestic political sources quashed the deals.[171]

Beginning in 1997, the U.S. began shipping food aid to North Korea through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to combat the famine. Shipments peaked in 1999 at nearly 700,000 tons making the U.S. the largest foreign aid donor to the country at the time. Under the Bush Administration, aid was drastically reduced year after year from 350,000 tons in 2001 to 40,000 in 2004.[172] The Bush Administration took criticism for using “food as a weapon” during talks over the North’s nuclear weapons program, but insisted the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) criteria were the same for all countries and the situation in North Korea had “improved significantly since its collapse in the mid-1990s.” Agricultural production had increased from about 2.7 million metric tons in 1997 to 4.2 million metric tons in 2004.[173]

Media and telecommunications

Media

North Korean media are under some of the strictest government control in the world. The North Korean constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press; but the government prohibits the exercise of these rights in practice. In its 2010 report,Reporters without Borders ranked freedom of the press in North Korea as 177th out of 178, above only that of Eritrea.[174] Only news that favors the regime is permitted, while news that covers the economic and political problems in the country, and foreign criticism of the government, are not allowed.[175] The media upheld the personality cult of Kim Jong-un, regularly reporting on his daily activities. The main news provider to media in the DPRK is the Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has 12 principal newspapers and 20 major periodicals, all of varying periodicity and all published in Pyongyang.[176] Newspapers include the Rodong SinmunJoson InmingunMinju Choson, and Rodongja Sinmum. No private press is known to exist.[177]

In January 2012, the Associated Press opened a bureau in Pyongyang for full news coverage within North Korea.[178] [179]

Telephones and Internet

North Korea has an adequate telephone system, with 1.18 million fixed lines available in 2008.[180] However, most phones are only installed for senior government officials. Someone wanting a phone installed must fill out a form indicating their rank, why he wants a phone, and how he will pay for it.[181] The number of mobile phones in Pyongyang rose from 3,000 in 2002 to approximately 20,000 in 2004.[182] In June 2004, mobile phones were forbidden again.[183] The prohibition lasted until 2008, when a new,3G network, Koryolink, was built through a joint venture with Orascom Telecom Holding, of Egypt. In May 2010, more than 120,000 North Koreans owned mobile phones.[184] By September 2010, the number of subscribers reached 301,000.[185] By August 2011, the number of mobile-phone subscribers had increased to 660,000 users.[186] By December 2011, the number of subscribers was reported as 900,000.[187]

North Korea’s first Internet café opened in 2002 as a joint venture with a South Korean Internet company, Hoonnet. Ordinary North Koreans do not have access to the global Internet network, but are provided with a nationwide, public-use Intranet service called Kwangmyong, which features domestic news, an e-mail service, and censored information from foreign websites (mostly scientific).[188]

Transportation

Puhŭng station of the Pyongyang Metro.

Two of the few ways to enter North Korea are over the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge or via Panmunjeom, the former crossing the Amnok River and the latter crossing the Demilitarized Zone.

On October 13, 2011 a train from the Russian border settlement of Khasan made an inaugural run to Rajin in North Korea. It run a 54-kilometer along a newly repaired link of reconstruction all the Trans-Korean railfor its further integration into the Trans-Siberian railroad.[189]

Private cars in North Korea are a rare sight, but as of 2008 some 70% of households used bicycles, which also play an increasingly important role in small-scale private trade.[190] Very few cars and light trucks are made in a joint-venture between Pyeonghwa Motors of South Korea, and the North Korean Ryonbong General Corp at a facility in Nampo North Korea.[191] Another local producer of vehicles is Sungri Motor Plant, which manufactures civilian vehicles and heavy trucks.

There is a mix of locally built and imported trolleybuses and trams in urban centers in North Korea. Earlier fleets were obtained in Europe and China, but the trade embargo has forced North Korea to build their own vehicles.

Rail transport

A train in North Korea

Choson Cul Minzuzui Inmingonghoagug is the only rail operator in North Korea. It has a network of 5,200 km (3,200 mi) of track with 4,500 km (2,800 mi) in standard gauge.[192] There is a small narrow gauge railway in operation in Haeju peninsula.[192] The railway fleet consists of a mix of electric and steam locomotives. Cars are mostly made in North Korea using Soviet and Chinese designs. There are some locomotives from Imperial Japan, the United States, and Europe remaining in use. Second-hand Chinese locomotives (early DF4Bs, BJ Hydraulics, etc.) have also been spotted in active service.

People traveling from the capital Pyongyang to other regions in North Korea typically travel by rail. But in order to travel out of Pyongyang, people need an official travel certificate, ID, and a purchased ticket in advance. Due to lack of maintenance on the infrastructure and vehicles, the travel time by rail is increasing. It has been reported that the 120 mile (193 km) trip from Pyongyang to Kaesong can take up to 6 hours.[193]

Marine transport

A North Korean cargo ship off the coast of Somalia

Water transport on the major rivers and along the coasts plays a growing role in freight and passenger traffic. Except for the Yalu and Taedong rivers, most of the inland waterways, totaling 2,253 kilometres (1,400 mi), are navigable only by small boats. Coastal traffic is heaviest on the eastern seaboard, whose deeper waters can accommodate larger vessels. The major ports are Nampho on the west coast and Rajin,ChongjinWonsan, and Hamhung on the east coast. The country’s harbor loading capacity in the 1990s was estimated at almost 35 million tons a year.[194]

In the early 1990s, North Korea possessed an oceangoing merchant fleet, largely domestically produced, of sixty-eight ships (of at least 1,000 gross-registered tons), totaling 465,801 gross-registered tons (709,442 metric tons deadweight (DWT)), which includes fifty-eight cargo ships and two tankers. There is a continuing investment in upgrading and expanding port facilities, developing transportation—particularly on the Taedong River—and increasing the share of international cargo by domestic vessels.[195]

Air transport

The departure lounge at Sunan International Airport

North Korea’s international air connections are limited. There are regularly scheduled flights from the Sunan International Airport – 24 kilometres (15 mi) north of Pyongyang – to MoscowKhabarovskVladivostokBangkokBeijingDalianKuala LumpurShanghaiShenyang along with seasonal services to Singapore and charter flights from Sunan to numerous Asian and European destinations including Tokyo and Nagoya. Regular charters to existing scheduled services are operated as per demand. An agreement to initiate a service between Pyongyang and Tokyo was signed in 1990. Internal flights are available between PyongyangHamhungHaeju,KaesongKanggyeKiljuNampoSinuijuSamjiyonWonsan, and Chongjin.[196]

All civil aircraft are operated by Air Koryo: 38 aircraft in 2010, which were purchased from the Soviet Union and Russia. From 1976 to 1978, four Tu-154 jets were added to the 7 of propeller-driven An-24s and 2 Ilyushin Il-18’s afterwards adding four long range Ilyushin Il-62M, three Ilyushin Il-76MD large cargo aircraft. In 2008 a long range Tupolev Tu-204-300’s purchased along with a larger version the Tupolev Tu-204-100B in 2010.[194]

Demographics

Population pyramid of North Korea

Prefabricated apartments house a large portion of the population. Housing in North Korea is free, but cramped as with many other Asian nations.[197]

North Korea’s population of roughly 24 million is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous in the world, with very small numbers of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, South Korean, and European expatriate minorities.

According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea’s life expectancy was 63.8 years in 2009, a figure roughly equivalent to that of Pakistan and Burma and slightly lower than Russia.[198] Infant mortality stood at a high level of 51.3, which is 2.5 times higher than that of China, 5 times that of Russia, 12 times that of South Korea.[199]

According to the UNICEF “The State of the world’s Children 2003” North Korea appears ranked at the 73rd place (with first place having the highest mortality rate), between Guatemala (72nd) and Tuvalu(74th).[199][200] North Korea’s Total fertility rate is relatively low and stood at 2.0 in 2009, comparable to those of the United States and France.[201]

Language

Main article: Korean language

North Korea shares the Korean language with South Korea. There are dialect differences within both Koreas, but the border between North and South does not represent a major linguistic boundary. While prevalent in the South, the adoption of modern terms from foreign languages has been limited in North Korea. Hanja (Chinese characters) are no longer used in North Korea (ever since 1949), although still occasionally used in South Korea. In South Korea, knowledge of Chinese writing is viewed as a measure of intellectual achievement and level of education. Both Koreas share the phonetic writing system calledChosongul in the north and Hangul south of the DMZ. The official Romanization differs in the two countries, with North Korea using a slightly modified McCune-Reischauer system, and the South using the Revised Romanization of Korean. The move toward prohibiting both Roman and Chinese based characters in North Korea has led to a number of words and phrases not common in the southern half of the peninsula or in Korean communities abroad.

Religion

Both Koreas share a Buddhist and Confucian heritage and a recent history of Christian and Cheondoism (“religion of the Heavenly Way”) movements. The North Korean constitution states that freedom of religion is permitted.[202] According to the Western standards of religion, the majority of the North Korean population could be characterized as irreligious. However, the cultural influence of such traditional religions as Buddhism and Confucianism still have an effect on North Korean spiritual life.[203][204][205]

Nevertheless, Buddhists in North Korea reportedly fare better than other religious groups, particularly Christians, who are said to face persecution by the authorities. Buddhists are given limited funding by the government to promote the religion, because Buddhism played an integral role in traditional Korean culture.[206]

An ancient relief image of the Buddha, Mount Kumgang

According to Human Rights Watch, free religious activities no longer exist in North Korea, as the government sponsors religious groups only to create an illusion of religious freedom.[207] According to Religious Intelligence the situation of religion in North Korea is the following:[208]

  • Irreligion: 15,460,000 (64.3% of population, the vast majority of which are adherents of the Juche philosophy)
  • Korean shamanism: 3,846,000 adherents (16% of population)
  • Cheondoism: 3,245,000 adherents (13.5% of population)
  • Buddhism: 1,082,000 adherents (4.5% of population)
  • Christianity: 406,000 adherents (1.7% of population)

Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity in Korea until 1945. From the late forties 166 priests and other religious figures were killed or disappeared in concentration camps, including Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang[209] and all monks of Tokwon abbey.[210] No Catholic priest survived the persecution, all churches were destroyed and the government never allowed any foreign priest to set up in North Korea.[211]

Today, four state-sanctioned churches exist, which freedom of religion advocates say are showcases for foreigners.[212][213] Official government statistics report that there are 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Roman Catholics in North Korea.[214]

According to a ranking published by Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, North Korea is currently the country with the most severe persecution of Christians in the world.[215] Open Doors estimates that 50000 – 70000 Christians are detained in North Korean prison camps.[216] Human rights groups such as Amnesty International also have expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.[217]

Education

A young girl in a school in Mangyongdae

Education in North Korea is free of charge,[218] compulsory until the secondary level, and is controlled by the government. The state also used to provide school uniforms free of charge until the early 1990s.[219]Heuristics is actively applied in order to develop the independence and creativity of students.[220] Compulsory education lasts eleven years, and encompasses one year of preschool, four years of primary education and six years of secondary education. The school curriculum has both academic and political content.[221]

Primary schools are known as people’s schools, and children attend them from the age of 6 to 9. Then from age 10 to 16, they attend either a regular secondary school or a special secondary school, depending on their specialties.

Higher education is not compulsory in North Korea. It is composed of two systems: academic higher education and higher education for continuing education. The academic higher education system includes three kinds of institutions: universitiesprofessional schools, and technical schoolsGraduate schools for master’s and doctoral level studies are attached to universities, and are for students who want to continue their education. Two notable universities in the DPRK are the Kim Il-sung University and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, both in Pyongyang. The former, founded in October 1946, is an elite institution whose enrollment of 16,000 full- and part-time students in the early 1990s occupies, in the words of one observer, the “pinnacle of the North Korean educational and social system.”[222]

North Korea is one of the most literate countries in the world, with an average literacy rate of 99%.[5]

Health care

A dental cabinet at one of North Korea’s major hospitals

North Korea has a national medical service and health insurance system.[223] North Korea spends 3% of its gross domestic product on health care. Beginning in the 1950s, the DPRK put great emphasis on healthcare, and between 1955 and 1986, the number of hospitals grew from 285 to 2,401, and the number of clinics – from 1,020 to 5,644.[224] There are hospitals attached to factories and mines. Since 1979 more emphasis has been put on traditional Korean medicine, based on treatment with herbs and acupuncture.

North Korea’s healthcare system has been in a steep decline since the 1990s due to natural disasters, economic problems, and food and energy shortages. Many hospitals and clinics in North Korea now lack essential medicines, equipment, running water and electricity.[225]

Almost 100% of the population has access to water and sanitation, but it is not completely potable. Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis B, are considered to be endemic to the country.[226] Life expectancy in North Korea is 63.8 years, occupying the 170th place in the world, according to 2009 estimates.[198]

Among other health problems, many North Korean citizens suffer from the after effects of malnutrition, caused by famines related to the failure of its food distribution program and “military first” policy. A 1998 United Nations (UN) World Food Program report revealed that 60% of children suffered from malnutrition, and 16% were acutely malnourished. As a result, those who suffered during the disaster have ongoing health problems.

Culture and arts

Kimchaek University e-Library in Pyongyang

Scene from the Mass Games

A drawing in one of the chambers of theGoguryeo tombs.

North Korea shares its traditional culture with South Korea, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. Historically, while the culture of Korea has been influenced by that of neighbouring China, it has nevertheless managed to develop a unique and distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbour.[227]

Literature and arts in North Korea are state-controlled, mostly through the Propaganda and Agitation Department or the Culture and Arts Department of the Central Committee of the KWP.[228]

Korean culture came under attack during the Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945. Japan enforced a cultural assimilation policy. During the Japanese rule, Koreans were encouraged to learn and speak Japanese, adopt the Japanese family name system and Shinto religion, and were forbidden to write or speak the Korean language in schools, businesses, or public places.[229] In addition, the Japanese altered or destroyed various Korean monuments including Gyeongbok Palace and documents which portrayed the Japanese in a negative light were revised.

In July 2004, the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs became the first site in the country to be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

In February 2008, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra became the first US orchestra to perform in North Korea,[230] albeit for a handpicked “invited audience.”[231] The concert was broadcast on national television.[232] The Christian rock band Casting Crowns played at the annual Spring Friendship Arts Festival in April 2007, held in Pyongyang.[233]

A popular event in North Korea is the Mass Games. The most recent and largest Mass Games was called “Arirang“. It was performed six nights a week for two months, and involved over 100,000 performers. Attendees to this event in recent years report that the anti-West sentiments have been toned down compared to previous performances. The Mass Games involve performances of dance, gymnastics, and choreographic routines which celebrate the history of North Korea and the Workers’ Party Revolution. The Mass Games are held in Pyongyang at various venues (varying according to the scale of the Games in a particular year) including the Rungrado May Day Stadium, which is the largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 150,000 people.

North Korea employs artists to produce art for export at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang. Over 1,000 artists are employed. Products include water colors, ink drawings, posters, mosaics and embroidery.Socialist realism is the approved style with North Korea being portrayed as prosperous and progressive and its citizens as happy and enthusiastic. Traditional Korean designs and themes are present most often in the embroidery. The artistic and technical quality of the works produced is very high but other than a few wealthy South Korean collectors there is a limited market due to public taste and reluctance of states and collectors to financially support the regime.[234]

Sports

Main article: Sport in North Korea

North Korea (in red) playing against Brazil in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Perhaps the most well known sporting event in North Korea is the annual Arirang Festival. The main attraction of Arirang is the mass gymnastics display. In football, fifteen clubs compete in the DPR Korea League level-one and vie for both the Technical Innovation Contests and the Republic Championship. The national football team, Chollima, compete in the AFC and are ranked 105 by FIFA as of 26 May 2010. The team competed in the finals of the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and 2010. In hockey, North Korea has a men’s team that is ranked 43rd out of 49[235] and competes in Division II. The women’s team is ranked 21 out of 34[236] and competes in Division II.

North Korea has been competing in the Olympics since 1964 and debuted at the summer games in 1972 by taking home five medals, including one gold. The IOC Code is PRK.

North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in neighboring Seoul.

At the Athens Games in 2004, the North and South marched together in the opening and closing ceremonies under the Unification Flag, but competed separately. To date, North Korea has medaled in every summer Olympics in which they have participated.

The martial art taekwondo originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 60s, modern rules were standardised and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon,hapkidotang soo dokuk sool wonkumdo and subak.

See also

 Media related to North Korea at Wikimedia Commons

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法國總統候選人結束競選活動 – BBC中文網

April 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Google 新聞 香港版

via 法國總統候選人結束競選活動 – BBC中文網.

薩爾科齊,奧朗德

左派社會黨奧朗德和現任右派總統薩爾科齊是這次法國總統大選中最強大的兩位候選人。

爭取連任的現任右派總統薩爾科齊在南部尼斯舉行造勢大會時呼籲支持者「說出來」以及選擇「一個強大的法國」。

左派社會黨候選人奧朗德也在法國東北地區舉行造勢大會,他表示,這次該「輪到左派來治理法國」。

這次法國總統大選共有10名候選人參選,如果沒有一名候選人在第一輪投票獲得過半票數,便需要進行第二輪投票。

左派社會黨奧朗德和現任右派總統薩爾科齊是這次法國總統大選中最強大的兩位候選人。

據民調顯示,薩爾科齊在第一輪投票預計會有27.5%得票率,低於奧朗德的29.5%。

除了薩爾科齊和奧朗德以外,極右派瑪麗娜‧勒龐、激進左派呂克·梅朗雄以及中間派弗朗索瓦·貝魯都是領先的候選人。

國家經濟

儘管現任總統薩爾科齊聲稱在2011年令法國有良好的經濟增長,但該國失業率仍然有10%,故此競選活動焦點的均投放在國家經濟之上。

雖然薩爾科齊與奧朗德都承諾將會平衡預算,但奧朗德則主張經濟增長,而不是緊縮。

奧朗德並呼籲歐洲央行採取一個不同的角色,直接向陷入困境的歐元區國家放貸並保持低利率,而不是向銀行貸款。

由於歐盟「不紓困條款」規定歐洲央行禁止直接購買政府債務,一些經濟學家認為這個舉動將有可能減輕政府的壓力和平衡預算。

薩爾科齊則認為,他曾協助及帶領歐元區渡過最嚴重的債務危機,令他成為最值得信任的人選。

Categories: EU Observation, Politics Tags: , ,

越南政改真刀真枪已将摸石头的中国甩在后面

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

World In My Eyes

via 越南政改真刀真枪已将摸石头的中国甩在后面.

作者 北京特约记者 周西
温家宝总理不久前曾发出号召,我们“不仅要进行经济体制改革,而且要进行政治体制改革,特别是党和国家领导制度的改革”。我们今天的话题就从这里说起。对此,有网友点评说,温总理多年来对中国政治体制改革的呼吁,终于清清楚楚地落在了“党和国家领导制度的改革”上,如果有人再问,什么是政治体制改革?这,就是答案 (网友赵光勇)。

不过,如何将温总理的中国政改蓝图付诸实施,人们至今仍未见到执政当局的只言片语。它山之石,可以攻玉,同为社会主义国家的越南,近年以来不断改革“党和国家领导制度”的成功经验,也有意无意地被国内舆论所忽略。

FT中文网上作者罗天昊的文章回顾说,事实上,1986年开始的越南“革新开放”,相对于中国改革开放,可谓是青出于蓝而胜于蓝。在政治领域,2002年,越南国会便可以直接质询越共中央政治局等权力核心机构;2006年,越共在其十大上,就已经实现了总书记的差额选举;同年,越南加入世贸组织,国会议员也实现了直选,越南国会甚至可以否决其政府总理提出的关于高铁投资的计划;到2009年,越南又实现了地方党委书记由党员直选的制度;2010年,越南就已经建立了官员财产申报制度,党政 军及社会组织、国有企业副科级以上的干部,都必须公开个人财产。

与此同时,越南基本实现了党内民主和社会民主,并且正式确立了依法治国的方略,行政权力基本不干涉法院的运作。在经济领域,越南也是成绩斐然。革新开放以来,越南的综合经济增长率,大约为7%左右,居东盟各国之首,在亚洲也是仅次于中国。尤为值得骄傲的是,2005年,越南更是被联合国“人类发展报告”高度评价为“一个同时达成发展与均衡的国家”,其基尼系数为亚洲国家最低,可谓名副其实的“藏富于民”。

文章又说,打破旧世界与建设新世界,是两种完全不同的能力。在那些传统社会主义国家里,由于革命领袖们的巨大贡献,往往都享有崇高的威望,但由于他们的威望,大都是由革命而派生的,于是,继续革命乃至终生革命, 以致于无法完成自身角色转换的革命领袖比比皆是,他们大多都给国家造成了巨大的损失。致使在这些国家,总是要等到那些传统革命领袖们自然老去,第二代领导人才有力量启动国家现代化的计划,而类似的教训,在前社会主义阵营的国家里屡见不鲜。

在越南,胡志明是无可争议的革命领袖,其数十年的革命生涯,为举国上下所折服,以致于当胡志明于1969年去世之后,越南已经没有了绝对权威。胡志明的继任者黎笋,虽然也很强势,却仍然无法制衡党内的各种势力,这反而为越南政治的多样性,预留了巨大的战略空间。虽然黎笋奉行亲苏反华的政策,并直接引发了中越边境战争,但即便如此,在黎笋当政的十年间,越共党内的中间派和改革派,均有幸保留了相当的实力,并没有像某些国家那样,被残酷清洗一空。 因此,当黎笋于1986年去世之后,继任的温和派领导人长征,很快便利用其体制内程序,解放了被称为“越南的邓小平”的改革派领袖阮文灵。正是阮文灵的上台,促成了越南全面走上“革新开放”之路。

虽然阮文灵后来因为改革触动官僚阶层利益而下台,但是,掌管意识形态的所谓“北方派”却始终没有实现一派独大,越南国内亦从未有过大规模的政治清洗和残酷内斗。自胡志明始,越南总共经历过八位总书记,其中,黎笋和农德孟当政十年以上,其它人都是五年左右,代际更替多,新老元老健在者多,越南由此形成了更多的互相制衡的势力。领袖的早死,无意中去掉了越南的历史包袱,使其轻装上阵,缺少强势领袖,反而使越南幸运地加速开启了现代化历程。

罗天昊的文章回顾说,越南在1976年宣布南北统一, 1986年即开始革新开放,在此十年间,越南的南北经济模式之优劣,对比明显。南北分治的时候,越南南方基本上由美国人经营,实行现代体制,经济相对发达,具有比较强的市场经济基础。其繁荣程度,已经超过了当时的泰国,西贡更是被称为“东方的巴黎”。而在越南统一之后,在南方采取了跟北方一致的政策,对所有的企业实行国有化,对农村实行集体化,把资本主义“扫地出门”。南方“北化”之后,越南人才发现,不仅北方不行了,原本繁荣的南方,亦开始凋敝。整个越南,就开始了反思和对比,在维持“政治正确”的前提下,南方搞经济的那一套,还是赢得了相当多的越南高层的认同。

同时,大批在南方工作的干部,纷纷进入越南高层,他们相对而言更具有现代眼光,这样,在改革的“顶层”设计上,越 南即与中国不同,他们的步伐更大,更容易接受新事物,富有闯荡的勇气。除越南改革的灵魂人物阮文灵外,前总理武文杰、前国家主席阮明哲、现总理阮晋勇等,都是越南党内改革派的棋手。而现在风头正劲的阮晋勇,正是典型的南方派,他的政治生涯,即从胡志明市发生飞跃。由此可见,越南的革新开放之后,对于现代文明的承接,要比中国成功得多。

文章接着说,虽然中国方面非常忌讳谈论越南的政治改革,但事实上,作为学生的越南确实已经将老师远远甩到了身后。越南政改的最大突破,莫过于越共总书记顺利实现了差额竟选,而这一职位,在其他社会主义国家,至今仍然是讳莫如深,无人敢于对其产生方式提出质疑。事实上,在实现总书记差额竞选之前,越南就先期对其政治局的设置进行了改革。早在2001 年,越共就取消了政治局常委,恢复设立了中央书记处,总书记是中央书记处成员,却不能担任国家元首之职;总理实权较大,但却无军权和党权;国家主席只具有名义上的军权和政权;总书记也仅有实际军权和有限的党权,但却无政权;国会主席职权虽虚,但近年来有一定充实。

文章最后强调说,而正是有了前期的铺垫,使得总书记不再是一权独大,再推出总书记的差额竞选,才不致引来巨大反弹。由此可见,在越共高层,党政军权力相当分散,呈现出程度不同的相互制衡色彩,这在某种意义上,已经越来越接近现代政治文明的基本要求了。此外,在核心实权职位改革的同时,越南最大的突破,是国会代表这种相对虚职的普遍竞选制度。2007年,在越南第十二届国会选举中,越南推行了国会代表差额竞选制度,从875位 候选人当中选出500位新任国会议员。

在很多“社会主义兄弟国家”,人大代表或者国会代表,要不就是官员,不是官员的代表,也多数是“花瓶”和门面。而越南的直选则是真刀真枪,越南共产党中央推荐的代表,甚至都有两位数的落选。国会代表的竞选,增强了整体政治活力,亦使国会更能代表多数国民的意志。 (注:文章作者为中国长江商学院前高级研究员,致力于国家及企业竞争战略研究。)

宗庆后参政议政的公心与私利

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

马宇的博客

via 宗庆后参政议政的公心与私利.

企业家参政议政,确乎已经成为中国政治生活中的一个重要议题,也是平民百姓茶余饭后街谈巷议的休闲话题。两相比较,似乎有生活不能承受之重,又有政治不能承受之轻。当此之时,我们仍然无能对此进行深入剖析,但不妨碍我们挂一漏万地探讨几个相关问题。

所谓企业家参政议政,实际大家的语境中指的是“民营企业家”虽然每年的两会期间,举行企业家专题记者招待会时,往往刻意地安排国有、民营企业家共同出席。原因无它,国有企业的高管实在还是“高官”,从任命到待遇都是带着行政级别的,不管是中央国企的副部级还是地方国企的厅级、处级、科级。官方也没有藏着掖着背着大家啊,政府官员和国企高管在不同角色中是可以随意转换的,如央企领导和省长部长、央行行长和商业银行行长、民航局长和航空公司董事长、工信部长和中国电信老总等等。从这个角度说来,国有企业领导早就在体制内,是体制的一部分,属于执政群体,也就无所谓现在意义上的“参”政、“议”政了。

我还不算老,但也经历过30年前“割资本主义尾巴”的时候,那时候当然没有民营企业家,抓起来游街批斗甚至判刑的都只不过是倒卖了点什么东西,有的甚至是自产的,连小商小贩都算不上。30多年的改革开放,更算是亲历了,眼看着年广久被抓被放,甚至惊动最高领导定夺;辩论着雇佣几个人算是剥削,8个就是分界线,从劳动人民变成了剥削人民的资本家;直到可以把民营企业家算作劳动人民的一部分,可以成为中共党员;再到让民营企业家登堂入室,成为人大代表、政协委员,身居庙堂,可以过政治生活,参政议政了。粗略一看,中国有名的民营企业家,没有人大、政协头衔的已经不多了。美国《福布斯》杂志2011年富豪榜列出的中国十大富豪,悉数都在各个层面的人大政协参政议政。毫无疑问,单从这个历史的发展进程看,民营企业家能有今天的政治地位,能够参与到国家的政治生活中去,就是巨大的历史进步,是改革开放的成就之一。

但本文不想进行这样的宏大叙事。仅想从一个案例看几点小问题。

宗庆后无疑是中国民营企业家的典型人物,同时也可算作为民营企业家参政议政的典型代表。首先是其资格老,已经两届10年了;其次是其真参政议政,10次人代会共提出议案和建议124项(条),是最积极建言的民营企业家之一,而不是那种开会请假、参加也是“学习”实际就是打酱油的尸位素餐者;第三则是其提案和建议颇具代表性,值得作为案例来加以剖析。

2003至2012年,宗庆后在10次全国人代会共提出议案和建议124项/条,其中议案9项,建议115条。2009年以后的四次人代会上,宗庆后分别提交了一项议案16条建议、两项议案14条建议、一项议案17条建议和11条建议。这些议案和建议,涉及政治、经济、社会、教育、文化、新闻等等领域,包括从宏观到微观的各个层面。但我们需要问的是:

其一,作为人大代表,宗庆后参政议政是否做到了出于公心而不是私利?

其二,参政议政是很复杂的工作,宗庆后作为一名企业家,是否有能力、有时间尽职尽责?

从宗庆后的议案、建议以及有关言论来看,他还是明白当今语境中人大代表的基本责任,尽量避免“夹带私货”,议案和建议涉及多个方面,而不仅仅局限在经济领域;即使关于经济问题的议案和建议,也尽量表现得从国家、行业、消费者利益出发,避免直接与本企业挂钩。近年来最著名的涉嫌“夹带私货”的议案和建议之一,就是2007年的关于立法限制外资通过并购垄断我国各个行业维护经济安全的议案》。但恰恰就是这一个,体现出了民营企业家参政议政的公心与私利冲突。

众所周知,当时这个议案提出的背景,就是宗庆后和达能正为娃哈哈股权和商标纠纷争执不下。从合同、契约角度讲,宗庆后无疑站不住脚,说自己签合同的时候是不懂、达能设了圈套之类等等说法都不可能让宗庆后占有法理优势,而只能激起民众的同仇敌忾之心、御外侮于国门外之义—但这也恰恰是宗庆后成功的地方。宗庆后利用自己的身份地位和影响力–包括对于舆论的,也包括参政议政的,来对达能进行回击。回击的最主要手法就是避实就虚,回避具体的合同、法律、商业问题,而引向外资与民营企业之争、中外之争、国家民族利益之争,宗庆后摇身一变从违约者变成了国家和民族利益的捍卫者,于是国内群情激昂,对达能的“阴谋”和“卑劣”人人喊打,并掀起了一股敌视跨国公司、无视法律(别忘了,这是我们中国自己的法律)尊严和商业信用的浪潮。所以在这年的全国人代会上,宗庆后也就这个方面的议题提出了议案。

在这个议案中,“案由、案据”是“外资并购……导致许多重要行业或龙头企业被其控制”、“这些外资利用其控股地位,说撤就撤,直接威胁到相关产业发展和国家经济安全”这样没有具体论据但却有定性判断的表述,“方案”中也有“对发现已有并购中存在外资恶意并购或形成行业垄断的,采取果断措施予以分拆或撤销,修改不合理的合同”这样的表面上看起来没问题,其实是在为自己的违约解套的解决办法,最后的结局也果如宗庆后所愿,随着国内舆论对达能的围剿,主动权已经完全掌握在了宗庆后一边。虽然过程中还出了疑似达能主导的宗庆后偷漏巨额个人所得税风波,但宗庆后还是赢得了这场股权和商标之争的最终胜利。

在这个过程中,宗庆后的全国人大代表身份有没有发挥作用?包括涉嫌偷漏个人所得税一事,如果没有人大代表的红帽子,是否可以补税就能轻易过关?毕竟,即使是达能举报,只要证明偷漏税不是栽赃陷害无中生有,法律就不应网开一面。从这个角度讲,很多人,不管是参政议政的企业家本人,还是普通百姓,都把企业家的人大代表身份当作“红帽子”、“护身符”,也不是没有道理。

当然,民营企业家参政议政,要求他们完全出于公心而没有私利似乎也不现实,何况在某些时候,民营企业的正常、合理诉求本就和他们自己的利益息息相关,让他们参政议政,不就是让他们表达的吗?首先表达自身、自己代表的群体的利益,然后再考虑全局、国家利益和其他群体利益,也是完全可以理解并且是正当的、合乎规则的。并且,民营企业家的自身诉求,并不一定与公共利益冲突,相反,在目前状况下,民营企业家目前还是总体向上的阶层,代表了市场经济的发展方向,所以其基本诉求和利益是符合大的公共利益的,比如近年密集的关于民营企业税费融资待遇和经营环境改善等议案、提案和建议、意见,都能清晰地看到这一点。只是,通过参政议政身份地位保护或者实现个人私利,也应有个界线,比如在法律范围内、不侵犯他人利益、受选民监督等。

另外一方面,民营企业家的参政议政能力也很重要。总体说来,由于基本素质、所处环境、视野思路等等原因,民营企业家的参政议政能力在目前的两会代表委员中,还算是高的。最大的官员群体由于利益局限和体制惰性,作为人大代表和政协委员参政议政的正面效应在衰减甚至趋向负面,近年来大家已经意识到其中诸多弊端,开始呼吁降低官员代表委员的比例;文体界的代表委员则多半是考虑到其“代表性”、专业成就和知名度,选取了一堆文体明星花瓶,但多半不具有基本的参政议政能力,如刘翔、杨威等等“以比赛为主”不参加会议或者美其名曰来“学习”、“以实际工作(指自己的本职身份内的)来完成代表职责”的打酱油者。相比之下,民营企业家由于其在现阶段中国环境中的先进性,其自身诉求更与发展大势吻合,对问题的观察和建议也更具有先进性和建设性。而在这些民营企业家中,宗庆后无疑又是极为敬业而且更为“职业”的。这从其每年10多项的议案和建议就可以清楚地看出来。

观察研究宗庆后历年的议案和建议,也很有意思:涉及面广,较为规范,有一定深度,但也不乏浮光掠影、似是而非甚至是误导的。让我们看看宗庆后其中几年的议案和建议:

2007年:

《关于立法限制外商投资通过并购垄断我国各个行业维护经济安全的议案》;《关于修订和完善[商标法]的议案》;《关于加强食品安全监管专业化和规范化建设的建议》;《关于完善进口设备相关管理制度的建议》;《关于恢复国家体改委进一步深化改革的建议》;《关于深化医疗卫生改革建议公平高效医疗服务体的建议》;《关于加快企业养老保险制度改革的建议》;《关于推动农民工社会管理制度改革促进社会和谐的建议》。

2012年:

《关于进一步深化社会保险制度改革的建议》;《关于税制改革的几点建议》;《关于关于银行要为经济建设服务的建议》;《关于调整进出口与引进外资政策的建议》;《关于进一步推动我国房地产市场健康发展的建议》;《关于完善食品安全监管及建设长效保障机制的几点建议》《关于重点发展中小城市和小城镇、控制大城市发展规模的建议》《关于规范商超零售企业促销收费行为、加大违规商超企业处罚力度的建议》《关于解决看病难、看病贵问题的若干建议》《关于切实提高新就业人员收入的建议》《关于进一步规范管理会计师事务所行业的建议》。

通过题目即可知其内容,也可知其角度。不得不说,真是难为了年逾六旬、掌管着上百亿企业资产、每天都要为公司业务殚精竭虑日理万机的宗庆后先生了!如此广泛的范围,如此专业、高难度的问题,宗庆后是否做过专门的深入研究,从而提出自己的解决方案?本人是做研究的,深知其中的困难,明白要把所有这些问题研究清楚,把握准确,还要提出解决方案,几乎不可能。宗庆后先生如此积极热心,确实令人敬佩,但另一方面,对其专业素养、议案和建议的合理性操作性与价值,却不能不抱有怀疑的态度。

比如其2009年的一个建议:《关于规范新闻媒体运作的建议》,全文400余字,照录如下:

“新闻媒体作为党和国家的‘喉舌’,是社会舆论的导向标,若管理不善,将导致民众思想混乱,影响社会和谐。目前我国新闻媒体最大问题是:乱七八糟的小媒体数量过多过杂;记者队伍庞杂,职业素养和道德水平参差不齐;媒体报道炒作甚多,缺乏社会责任感,误导社会舆论;有些媒体有可能还受到境外敌对势力的资助,发布不负责任的言论甚至成为西方的喉舌,扰乱人民思想稳定,影响国家和谐。

针对以上问题,建议进一步采取措施规范新闻媒体运作:

1、整顿媒体队伍,提高新闻工作者职业道德素养。建议取缔规模小、水平低、业务素质差的小媒体,整顿和规范媒体队伍,提高新闻媒体的整体水平,加强新闻工作者资格审查,严格新闻采编程序,确保新闻报道符合经济和社会发展方向。

2、加强对媒体的纪律监管和社会监督。建议国家和社会要加强对媒体的监督,成立专门对媒体的监管部门,制定一套有效的社会监管机制;明确新闻从业人员的职权范围、新闻纪律、管理制度等,并公开对新闻媒体的社会监督电话。”

这样的建议,有任何积极意义和长远价值吗?不客气地说,这是在浪费国家的参政议政资源,并暴露出我国参政议政制度设计中存在的问题:两会的功能定位、人员构成、职责行使等等。近年来人大代表、政协委员专职化的呼声日高,也从一个侧面说明了这点。

总而言之,民营企业家参政议政,有正面积极意义,但作用有限,更多是象征性的。民营企业家乃至其他群体的广泛、深入参政议政,还有待政治体制改革的深化,有待人大政协等机构的制度创新。

(本文写与2012年两会期间。部分发表于《商界评论》)

铁道部还有多少秘密没有透露?

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

邱林的博客

via 铁道部还有多少秘密没有透露?.

在铁道部4月17日公布的2012年3月全国铁路运输主要指标完成情况中,备受关注的“固定资产”投资一项被略去。作为社会了解政务信息和铁路建设的重要数据窗口,铁道部此举引发各界猜忌和质疑。为何突然略去此数据?有业内人士猜测铁道部此次不公布“固定资产”投资数据是有其原因的,主要是担心数据太难看。

    由于“固定资产”投资指标出现严重下滑,觉得“太难看”,铁道部就不予公布,这是让人难以置信的。虽然铁道部刻意略去数据,但其数据仍可从国家统计局近日发布的2012年1至3月份固定资产投资主要数据中找到:铁路运输业绝对量为530亿元,比2011年同期下降41.8%。

    实际上,自2011年开始,铁道部的“固定资产”投资就一直出现下滑的趋势。该数据在2012年更出现连番暴挫。其中,1月份固定资产投资1228220万元,比2011年同期减少69.6%。2月情况仍不乐观,1至2月累计完成固定资产投资2993164万元,比2011年同期减少57.7%。

    “固定资产”这项指标不向社会和公众透露,只是铁道部的冰山一角。作为一个高度垄断且政企合一的政府部门,人们更为关注的是,铁道部还有那些秘密没有透露。许多教训告诉我们,凡政府部门越多需要社会和公众了解的信息不予公布,事发后,当事者受到社会舆论责难的机率就要大得多。2011年发生的“7·23”甬温线事故就是例证。

    早在2009年铁道部就已经发现了动车生产过程中存在的质量问题,包括CRH1型动车存在制动盘螺栓松动、断裂等问题,已发生相当长时间,仍未查出原因,其中亦包括被要求召回的CRH3系列。不过当时铁道部决定内部“消化”此事,时任铁道部总工程师的张曙光说:“既要快速反馈,也要讲求策略,注意对外界保密”。

    这显然不是明智之举。铁道部对高铁建设中的事一向守口如瓶,留下了许多不被人知晓的秘密。甬温线事故发生后,引起社会的强烈批评。不仅如此,铁道部高铁建设中的所谓秘密,并没有逃过审计监管部门的眼睛。

    今年3月,审计署发布了对京沪高铁的审计报告,一共披露了7大问题,包括个别施工单位及个人转移挪用公款和建设资金1.87亿元,施工单位在沙石料采购、设备租赁等业务中,使用虚开、冒名或伪造的发票1297张入账,金额合计3.24亿元,部分工程监理不到位等。

    纸包不住火。自己不公布这些信息,而让审计监管部门来公布,一方面让铁道部没有了面子,另一方面也让人们对铁道部是否存在下去产生了质疑。由于信息不公开,近年来,铁道部成为公众批评的对象,特别是刘志军贪腐案发生后,更引起社会和公众的关注。

    例如铁道部每年投资约8000亿元的铁路工程。此前,铁路工程自己招标自己监管,不仅抑制了市场化竞争的机会,还客观上为体制内的寻租腐败预留了巨大空间。铁道部自己也承认,“铁路建设施工、监理、物资、服务类招标均存在人为干预现象”。

    政府信息公开,现在已经成为一种国际趋势,“让政务公开在阳光之下”越来越成为现代治理中的共识。对于一个自我治理的社会而言,不公开的信息,一般性地不能作为管理的依据。政府信息公开实际上是社会和公众的自然需求,也是像铁道部这样一种政企合一的政府部门运营的必要体现。

   其实,铁道部还有多少秘密已不重要,更为重要的是,铁道部还能存在多久?《经济观察报》2011年8月刊发的《分拆铁道部》文章指出,越开放越透明,不仅决策可以更科学,也越能建起公众的信任。因此,放权与制衡,是下一步中国铁路经营体制改革的方向。

   这话说到点子上了。铁道部作为中国政企合一的政府部门,被视为答案的正解。从全国“两会”,到新闻媒体,都提出了宜启动改革分拆铁道部。眼下这般严峻的局面,使铁道部的改制显得非常迫切。政府决策层对此宜早下决心,尽快启动改革,与铁道部进行切割,引入市场运营模式。只有这样,中国铁路方能有一个光明的未来。

海龟与土鳖之争何时能了?

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

那小兵

via 海龟与土鳖之争何时能了?.

   有一位海龟朋友把这篇文章转了给笔者,反复读过,内心感慨。海龟与土鳖之争不单是人事之争,更是东西方文化之争,他们之间最后没有胜利者。海龟曾在十多年前随互联网开启而风云一时,但如今在更多情况下渐渐走下坡路,最后到了几乎无路可走的境地,这背后的原因是什么呢?这也正是这篇文章的分析精彩之处

     中国的土鳖与海龟之争,始于九十年代后期,并且持续至今。他们争什么呢?这个“争”字是什么意思呢?首先,二者之争的根源是国家为了吸引海龟回国所制订的一系列政策。这些政策为海龟们在国内的就业、创业提供了很多方便和优惠。大凡物不平则鸣,土鳖们对此不满在所难免。再加上有些海龟适应不了国内的工作环境,业绩差强人意,还有一些骗子和牛皮大王混杂在海龟之中,土鳖们对海龟的不满情绪还是有相当大的合理成分的。尽管如此,国家对海龟们的态度还是始终如一的。近日出台的《北京大学教师聘任和职务晋升制度改革方案》,其主要内容之一就被解释成“赶走土鳖、请回海龟”,所以这个纸面上的改革在北大校园造成强烈震撼,赞成和反对两派壁垒森严:“海龟都赞成,土鳖都反对”。 (高昱:为什么我们关心北大教改?)。所以说,海龟和土鳖抢饭碗,而二者之间存在不平等竞争,这是矛盾的根本。说到底,龟鳖之争是利益之争。

    二  龟鳖之争的两个战场

龟鳖之争的战场主要有两个,一是在工商业界,一个在学术界。在工商业界,海龟又分为创业派和就业派,而国家的优惠政策对创业派更为有利。海龟创业派大腕如张朝阳、姜丰年、吴征等领风气之先,战果累累,而一些小海龟也随后登陆,能有或多或少的斩获,但不如意的居多。

    中国政府实行门户开放政策的目的就是要洋为中用,派人把西方的科学技术学回来。但是由于种种原因,西方的那些东西,包括知识、技术、经验,在中国的现行体制内很难发挥作用,再加上物质条件的差异,派出去的人回国工作的很少。而目前的政策是鼓励留学人员自行创业,使他们能够按照各自的模式来打造天下。这就部分地解决了体制上的限制。创业的最基本问题就是资金问题,所以政府通过提供优惠政策,包括提供数万元的启动资金,把留学生吸引回来。这实在是一项明智的政策。打个不太恰当的比方,公派留学生有如肉包子打狗,而用优惠政策吸引留学生回国创业,却如同拿包子把狗吸引回来拉雪橇。与派出留学生和访问学者的费用相比,政府为留学生创业所提供的优惠政策仅及其一小部分,并且钱是花在中国的大陆上,因此这在经济上是划算的。过几十年后再回头来看,中国有竞争能力的高技术企业中,可能有很多诞生于这些遍布全国的“海外留学生创业园”中。从这个角度讲,国家给予海龟的优惠政策是有远见的,是比较合理的,尽管对土鳖来说不一定是公平的。

    不过,有能力自己创业的学者毕竟是少数,所以多数海龟属于就业派。应该说,在工商业界,海龟就业派与土鳖的竞争大致是比较平等的,因此整体上的矛盾较少。还应该指出的是,在工商行业,由于政府的行政部门是政策的直接执行者,他们与海龟们直接打交道,所以很多给海龟的优惠政策和承诺基本上能够得到落实。

    与工商界情况呈鲜明对照的是,在学术界,主要是大学和科研单位,国家给予海龟的就业优惠政策很多得不到落实。其关键就是土鳖与海龟的明争暗斗。

    在学术界内,国家为海龟提供了类似于在工商业界的优惠政策,并且提出了“三个留人”的原则来吸引海龟(“用事业留人,用感情留人,也用适当的待遇留人”),但根据秋水先生的总结,中国学术界实际有一套“三个撵人”的对策:具体方法是,“用人机构在事业,感情,待遇三个方面做点文章,让求职者知难而退”。(秋水:我为什么不回国?)。因此,多数海龟们实际上是不得中国学术界之门而入的。比如,有个笔名为axz123的海外博士在一个题为“我求职中国大学的体会”的帖子中写到:“在国外漂泊七八年了,很想回国工作。人民日报海外版和神州学人都登了很多高校的招聘广告,按照要求去年底开始投寄简历给国内数所大学。本人虽然并不是出类拔萃的那种,但有在国外高校工作多年经历,也发表几十篇文章,本人在求职信中也未提任何条件,所以相信本人应该有资格在高校谋一职位。国内有几所高校很快复信,待遇各有不同。可想不到的是,等待三个月后,大多数学校未给任何消息,故分别发涵询问结果,又等三个月仍无消息,让人非常失望。”

    这个帖子有29个跟贴,从中可以看出,axz123博士遇到的问题是很普遍的。 其中一个回贴就明言,“那些土鳖们根本就不想让海龟回去,所以最好的办法就是找自己的老同学,回母校。否则,浪费时间。”事实也确实如此:在学术界就职的海龟,绝大多数都回到了自己的母校。没有这层关系,几乎不可能通过正常招聘途径进入中国的学术界。另一个例子就是,南京大学在全球招聘教授,可自称为“海外赤子”的李正起博士的求职信却根本就没人理睬。(李正起:南京大学就是这样面向海内外招聘教授吗?)。

    三   阻挡海龟进入中国学术界的玻璃大门

    所以说,尽管从表面上看,中国的学术界向海龟们敞开了大门,但实际上这是一扇紧紧关闭的玻璃大门,其要点是要外界认为这扇门是开着的,但同时要尽力减少海龟的进入。为什么会这样呢?学术界不是更应该以选聘人材为主吗?前面讲过,龟鳖之争是利益之争,所以必须根据这个线索进行分析。

    其实,在中国学术界,海龟和土鳖的界线是很模糊的。这是因为,很多具有高级职称的土鳖都有短期(几个月到一、两年)出国访问的经历,但由于没有洋学位,所以他们仍旧被划归土鳖类。他们实际应该被称为“土龟”。“土龟”是国内学术界的实权派,多数是博导,并且担任系主任、院长、甚至校长等行政要职。真正的土鳖,是那些不久前从国内大学获得博士学位的中青年,他们很多人是中国博士大跃进的产物,因此他们的整体学术水平比海龟们要低得多。在学术界内,土鳖的地位最低,他们在人身上受土龟的管制,他们的最终利益受海龟的威胁。

    同样,海龟也可以大致分成两类:一类是已经回国较长时间、并且已经在国内建立了工作据点和学术地位的人,本文称他们为海鳖。海鳖们品尝到了早期回国的艰难,并且由于各种原因,已经习惯了国内学术界的运作规则,所以在利益上他们与土鳖,尤其是土龟,有很大的共同点。

    应该说,在九十年代中期以前,国内学术界还有些清水衙门的味道,那时肯回国的海龟,目的比较单纯,图的多是在学术上有所发展。随着高教产业化的发展,以及教育经费、科研经费近年来大量涌入,学术界人士待遇的提高,以及早期留学生中很多人到了中年,有了落叶归根的情结,所以在二十世纪末出现了一个留学生回归潮。他们是真正的海龟。不过,既然是潮,难免鱼龙混杂、良莠俱现。

    目前在中国学术界中掌握权力的人士以土龟和海鳖为主。由于他们他们的双重经历,因此他们具有双重性格:他们习惯于中国学术界的官僚化体制,但也知道中国与西方在科学水平上的距离。官僚制度的本质就是要保户既得利益,因此他们实际上是讨厌海龟回国的。但是,国家的科技政策、高教政策又决定了利用海龟能够从政府那里得到好处。于是,就有了如今的不成文“国家”政策:在欧美大学毕业的博士们,如果在国外没有功成名就,很难在中国的大学中找到合适的职位。而那些功成名就的海外大腕们,由于根本不可能完全回到中国工作,反倒成了国内学术界的抢手货。他们可以到中国打短工,甚至可以不干活,他们唯一需要做到的,就是在发表论文的时候把国内单位的名字挂上。这样一来,海龟招收单位的学术水平既在名义上得到了提高(这是土龟的主要政绩),而土龟的地位也得到了保障:土龟最终是海龟的老板,随时可以把他们解雇。金钱不成问题,自然有人(国家或企业)负担。所以,中国学术界一方面搞些用百万年薪聘请海外教授的名堂和花样,另一方面是把大批真心回国工作的海外学子排斥在学术界之外。其理由看上去很正当:那些被排斥的海龟水平不高。其实,水平的高低是相对的,与土鳖和土龟们相比,海龟们的水平从整体上说是足够高的。但土龟们自己是不会和海龟们比的,他们把海龟进入中国学术界的门坎加高,让小海龟与大海龟相比,而他们自己倒成了圈内的裁判。这就是其中的奥妙。前面提到的李正起博士,他亲自到南京大学之后才发现,医学院主管聘请教授的竟然是两个副教授,其中一个还是在职研究生。(李正起:南京大学就是这样面向海内外招聘教授吗?)。这样的土鳖,会聘任海龟来堵自己的前程吗?

    所以说,新海龟们面对着的是土鳖、土龟、海鳖们的三重阻力,而反对海龟最力的人,实际正是中国学术界的实权派。

    四   陈晓宁、姚雪彪、朱大海:海龟种种

    应该承认,在众多的海龟中混杂着一些投机分子。比如“基因皇后”陈晓宁,她打着“爱国”的旗号,谋取私利。“基因皇后”事件是国内腐败势力与国外腐败势力相互勾结、相互利用,坑害国家和人民的典型事例,也是龟鳖之争走向一个极端的标志。为什么这么说呢?因为陈晓宁本人并不准备彻底回国,她在国内学术机构的职务都属于兼职性质,因此也就不会威胁到土龟们的个人利益。相反,利用陈晓宁进行宣传造势,土龟们能够从国家那里得到更大的好处。所以,从表面上看,“基因皇后”事件是精明的败类海龟想要欺骗傻冒土鳖,但实际上,是狂妄的败类海龟被狡猾的土龟给耍了。陈晓宁最后人财两空,而她的那些国内“同志”可以说毫发无损,这可能是这个“皇后”和整个事件的策划者、“皇后”
的丈夫汪海涛先生所始料不及的吧?

    今年年初,中国学术界又爆发了“姚雪彪事件”。“姚雪彪事件”先由国内一批具有一定地位的中青年科学家不点名举报,然后通过Nature反馈回中国社会,最后由《南方周末》的一篇头版文章在国内引起广泛反响。(李虎军:“公开信”拔出萝卜带出泥海外学者瞒天过海遭非议)。很多人认为,这个事件是土鳖与海龟利益冲突激化的结果。

    平心而论,在学术上,姚雪彪是中国留学生中比较强的一个:他从美国加州大学伯克利分校获得博士学位,并且能够在威斯康辛大学麦迪逊分校找到正式的助教授职位,这都说明他具有相当的实力(这两所学校都可以称为广义的世界一流大学)。根据他已经发表的论文来判断,他的学术水平可以说超过很多中国的院士,包括他在中国科技大学的顶头上司、生命科学学院院长施蕴渝院士。如果不是事业出轨,很难想象姚雪彪会在争取美国终生教授职位的关键时刻到中国科技大学当什么属于兼职性质的特聘教授。

    实际上,姚雪彪是落入土龟设置的陷阱中的另一个人。表面上,他名利双得, 每年在国内工作三、四个月左右,但却控制大笔科研经费,带领大批研究生,风光无限。可实质上,他的工作性质决定了他只是一个打短工的:他在国内的地位取决于他在国外的地位。一旦他没有了国外的基地,他在国内也就一文不名了。 因此,他是决策者手中的棋子,充其量也就是个二老板。在“流氓教授与骗子学生(三)”一文中,我曾评论说:“国家养了这么多院士,为什么他们自己不干点象样的活、却要花大价钱从海外雇人打半工?这不相当一个人花钱请保姆,然后再掏出一笔钱请人来侍候这个保姆吗?我看,其中原因只能有两个:或者是这些院士太懒,或者是他们根本就干不了象样的活儿。”所以,这些半工海龟的价值就在于替那些当权的土龟干活。他们是保姆的保姆。

    哈尔滨工业大学的朱大海是另一种海龟。他在1999年前后回国,在哈工大任全职教授。哈工大给予他很高的待遇:投资250 万元人民币为他建立实验室,让他当博士生导师,让他担任生命科学系的副主任,让他享受仅次于院士的住房标准,并且极力推荐使他得到国家自然科学基金会的“杰出青年”基金,科研经费超过百万元人民币。可是,三、四年过去了,朱大海及其率领的二十多人,只是在国内刊物上发表一些文章,许多还是所谓的综述。这显然辜负了学校对他的过高期望。但这还不是问题的实质。朱大海的问题是他过度的自我吹嘘,极端的狂妄自大,以及缺乏最基本的道德修养。他说自己“德太高、能太强”,所以在国内找不到合作夥伴。他把一个基因的序列存储到GenBank 数据库,然后就对全国宣称得到GenBank 的“认证”。这是十分明显地在欺骗国人,因为那个数据库根本就不对任何数据进行“认证”,数据的真实和可靠完全由提交者自己负责。自高自大,欺骗舆论,这在中国目前的学术界也许算不上是什么问题,但动不动就张口骂人,时不常就动手打人,这却是十分罕见的。而这位海龟的罕见之处也就在这里。(biosys:这就是我们的杰出青年科学家)。与陈晓宁蓄意行骗、姚雪彪误落陷阱相比,朱大海的陨落来自本身劣根性的任意膨胀,而国内学术界是这个劣根性膨胀的极佳环境。

    鱼龙混杂,泥沙俱下,是海龟们需要直接面对的严重问题。新语丝网站揭露了许多海龟败类,因此引起不少海外留学生的不满,认为这是在给留学生抹黑。 实际上,这是在净化海龟队伍,是一件功德无量的好事。

    五结论

    现代的“学术界”是以自然科学为主体的,它包括物质科学(理学)和生命科学以及它们衍生出来的技术科学(应用科学)。在过去一、二百年的人类历史上,自然科学体系可以说是社会经济发展的最强大的推动力。自然科学不发达,是中国落后的主要原因之一。

    现代科学不仅仅是一个庞大的知识体系,而且是一个文化体系、思想体系。令人震惊的是,这个体系根本就不存在于中国的传统文化之中。中国文化中所谓的“学术”实际专指知识(学,已知的东西)和道术(当官之道)。中国的“格物致知”虽然含有科学研究(也就是创造知识)的成分,但这个思想最终被儒家当成“穷天理、明人伦、讲圣言、通世故”的工具。所以说,中国没有从事科学研究的传统。换一句话说,要搞科学,中国就必须向西方学习。

    事实上,中国留学生的大多数确实是到欧美国家学习自然科学的。虽然不排除国内能够培养出一流科技人材的可能性,但在一个没有科学传统的国度,在教育产业化的大环境下,在院士、博导学术水平本身就不高的今天,这种可能性应该说是相当小的。因为前面提到,现代科学不仅是一个知识体系,它还是文化、思想体系。靠书本,靠进实验室,一个人能够学到的只是知识,但极少可能得到西方科学的精髓,也就是上升到它的文化和思想层次。所以说,中国目前最需要海龟的地方是学术界。从整体上说,能够出国留学的学生,其基本素质要高于其它人。而他们在经过西方的系统训练之后,科学知识和能力更要高于国内的同类。这么说,尽管有些人不愿意听,但却是谁也不得不承认的事实。中国如果要搞真正的科学,就必须依靠海龟的力量,因为这是中国所拥有的最接近西方科学的人力资源。

    可事实却是,国内学术界在千方百计地阻止海龟的回流。目前所谓的百万年薪教授、百人计划正在成为新的学术腐败温床,靠关系,靠金钱,很多学术水平一般的人也被捧到了“明星”的高度。(孤独剑:日本论文博士质疑;xin :“招来女婿赶走儿子”的几个例子;清华大学自动化系研究生:且看清华大学的百人计划是什么水平?)。听说中科院的百人计划中,就有尚未毕业的研究生参
与角逐。实际上,即使百万年薪、百人计划真的能够招到有真才实学的人物,他们对中国学术的发展到底能够起到什么样的作用也是值得商榷的。学术的健康发展,最重要的是建立一个先进的培养人材途径,合理的选贤任能、劣汰优胜能机制,一个有效的奖勤罚懒的政策。就象一棵大树,根深才能够叶茂。百万年薪、百人计划充其量是在中国学术这棵树上挂上几朵红花,外面看上去十分漂亮,但对这棵大树的成长可能根本就没有什么作用。难道中国学术界缺少的就是几篇Science、Nature论文、几个诺贝尔奖吗?显然不是。因为即使这些百万年薪教授、百人计划成员真的每人都贡献几篇这样的论文,真的有人得到了诺贝尔奖,他们也改变不了中国学术界的本质:触目惊心的学术腐败和整体学术水平低下。实际上,百
万年薪教授、百人计划在客观上助长了中国学术界的浮躁风气,从而破坏了中国科学长期稳定的发展。中国科学发展的目标应该是要这棵大树能够自己开花结果。

    有人说,中国的学术腐败是海龟不回国的一个主要原因。(范立群:学术界的腐败与海外学子的不回国)。实际上,“三个撵人”对策就是学术腐败的具体表现,因为这个对策的本质就是为了一己私利对抗于国家有利的科技政策。目前的情况是,中国的学术腐败既使海龟不愿归,也使海龟不能归。学术腐败还有个“逆向淘汰”的作用,它使有些败类海龟在中国十分嚣张,这又为土龟阻止海龟的回归创造了口实。

    其实,受学术腐败坑害的不仅是海龟,而且包括土鳖。他们是目前这个教育制度的牺牲品:他们花费了大量的时间和金钱,但并没有得到与他们的学位相适应的知识和本领;铺天盖地的博士学位帽子,又使具有真才实学的人难以出头。 但是,当权人物玩弄权术,却挑起了他们对海龟的仇恨。实际上,无论海龟的境遇如何,土鳖们的命运在可见的将来都是不容乐观的。他们的出路有两个:一是离乡出走,到国外接受再教育;或者抗击学术腐败,在中国建立一个干净的学术界。

    在中国现代历史上,有过三次大规模的自毁人材时期。第一次是反右运动,大批有才华的学生被打成右派,造成“最好的出局”,使中国的学术界后来被平庸之才控制。第二次就是文革,人材不论好坏,几乎同归于尽。第三次就是目前的龟鳖之争,大批宝贵人材不得国门而入。当然,海龟的学术水平较高,并不说明他们的道德水平也高。任何国家、任何民族、任何时代的人,都有各自的人格局限。关键是要有一个好的培养人材、选择人材、鼓励人材向正面发展的机制。

    由于中国学术界目前的状况极难改变,龟鳖之争的结局实际已经有了分晓。这就是,国家将继续花大钱买红花往树上挂,而这棵大树的根系则日渐萎缩,树心日渐淘空,可是那些真正想要汇入这棵大树主体的海外莘莘学子却报国无门。 有什么解决办法吗?有,那就是在中国另建一套学术系统:私立、非牟利的学术系统,特别是高等教育系统。尽管现在看来,这套系统在中国成为现实的可能性还很小,但这却是中国学术发展的唯一出路。

Categories: China Observation Tags: , ,

“中国人民的老朋友”如何参政议政

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

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via “中国人民的老朋友”如何参政议政.

发表时间:三月. 23, 2012 | 作者:  | 类别:1.中国观察阅人知世 | 已有603次阅读
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文革结束后,他们进入了政协,这是中国政府和人民对他们政治上迟来的认可。

政协“洋委员”的35年:
“中国人民的老朋友”怎样参政议政

□《南方周末》2012年3月22日
记者 方可成 实习生 李熠祺 发自北京

由于身体原因,97岁的全国政协委员沙博理已经连续两年请假,没有出现在两会会场上了。

在2237名委员中,沙博理的身份很特殊:他不仅年纪最大,而且没有中国血统——这位出生于纽约的犹太人,在革命战争年代来到中国,从此留在了这里,并于1963年经周恩来总理批准加入中国国籍。

沙博理也是“中国人民的老朋友”群体中的一员。全国政协自1978年开始陆续吸纳了十余位拥有中国国籍的国际友人加入,最早的一位是马海德医生,至今唯一健在的则是沙博理。

这是一群在政协历史上,乃至中国历史上都无法复制的特殊委员。随着本届政协进入尾声,他们在政协舞台上的活动将满35年,他们的时代正徐徐谢幕。

“政协委员”和“政治局委员”

国际友人进政协,源自马海德向胡耀邦提出的建议。

胡、马两人是相识已久的老革命,他们的友谊始于延安,那时胡耀邦还是红小鬼,马海德则是医学博士。1936年,陕北苏区需要医生和记者,于是两个美国人携手穿越封锁来到根据地。后来,这两个美国人的名字在中国家喻户晓:医生是马海德,记者则是斯诺。

作为曾经的八路军总卫生部顾问和毛泽东的保健医生,马海德创造过中共党史和新中国历史上的一连串纪录。他让人们知道,原来美国人也可以加入工农红军,西方人也可以成为中国共产党党员,外国人也可以加入中华人民共和国国籍。

其实,早在延安的时候,马海德就曾向周恩来要求加入中国国籍。当时,周恩来回答说:我们哪有国呀?我们只有一个党。

1949年,有了新中国,马海德第一时间入籍。随后,他虽然被任命为卫生部顾问,但却拒绝了坐办公室喝茶看报纸的生活,去最脏最苦的基层从事消灭性病和麻风病的工作。

“毛泽东心里头喜欢我父亲,周恩来知道我父亲经过了革命考验,邓小平对我父亲太了解了。他当选政协委员,是水到渠成的事情。”马海德之子周幼马对南方周末记者说。

以马海德的资历,成为政协委员当然不在话下。只是由于他的美国背景,委员的身份来得晚了点,直到国际国内形势巨变,苏联人不再是同志,美国人不再被统统视为敌人、特务,马海德才于1978年进入五届政协。

当选委员之后的马海德,心里头惦记着和他拥有类似经历的一批人:本是“洋人”,来到东方,怀着理想,投身革命和建设,并义无反顾地留在这里,成为中国公民。

于是,借着一次向时任总书记的胡耀邦汇报事情的机会,马海德提出:可否也让这些人成为政协委员?

令马海德没料到的是,他的话让胡耀邦面露难色。在办公室踱步了一阵子,胡耀邦说:老马啊,您说的这些人还不是中央委员,怎么能进入政治局呢?

原来,他对中国的政治术语使用得还不熟练,把“政协委员”说成了“政治局委员”。

解释清楚自己的口误后,马海德得到了胡耀邦肯定的答复:“没问题,你写一个名单,我来办。”之后,六届政协果然新增了十余名外国血统的委员。马海德和爱泼斯坦还当选了政协常委。

这批人普遍从官方获得了“中国人民的老朋友”的称呼,还常常被称为“国际主义战士”,但在建国初期和“文革”年间,他们并没有享受“老朋友”的待遇。比如,犹太人爱泼斯坦在1968年5月被投进监狱;李立三的苏裔夫人李莎和萧三的德裔夫人叶华也都经历了长达8年左右的囚徒生活;在50年代末的极左时期,来自奥地利的医生傅莱为保护三个孩子被迫与夫人提出协议离婚,他还被康生视为“希特勒派遣的小集团”嫌疑犯……

“文革结束后,他们进入了政协,这是中国政府和人民对他们政治上迟来的认可。”周幼马说,“大家感到,中国人民不再把他们当成特务、敌人,不只是容得下他们,而且欢迎他们,给他们很高的政治地位,这是天翻地覆的变化。”

中国外文局副局长黄友义认同周幼马的这种判断,他同时认为:既然政协委员是来自各行各业的精英,那么的确不应少了这批特殊的代表性人物。革命年代,这些国际友人是冒着生命危险的支援力量;建设年代,他们大多在外文局、新华社、中央编译局等单位工作,是发挥了重要作用的“外国专家”。

“我们不是外来的附属物”

尽管加入政协时普遍年事已高,但这批“洋委员”们依然对参政议政表现出了极大的热情。一个例证是:2001年初,刚刚病愈出院的傅莱坚持不愿错过当年的政协会议,因为“要讨论‘十五计划’,很重要”。

在连续六届的任期中,沙博理一直积极参与着提案和建议工作,他自己解释说:“我过去有些懈怠,而且原谅自己,因为我知道,这些建议几乎没有产生过多少实质性的变化。但是,我不知道我还能在政协呆多久。如果说有什么让我念念不忘的事,那么现在是公开讲出来的时候了。”

黄友义对沙博理2002年提出的一项提案印象深刻,当时,这项提案被媒体称为“两会上最为极端的意见”。它的标题是:尼古丁是对人民极其有害的致命毒品,因此种植、生产和销售卷烟都必须予以禁止。

这项十年前的禁烟提案显得过于超前,黄友义认为,这跟沙博理通过各种通讯方式,与国外保持密切联系有关。

“洋委员”们提出的提案大多跟他们的工作生活息息相关,例如马海德提出加强麻风病防治宣传,还建议允许麻风病治愈者结婚,李莎则提出改革中国俄语教学现状,这些提案都得到了相关部委的积极回应。

也有杳无音信的。90年代初,武汉的一处建筑工地曾发生造成11人死亡的事故,沙博理由此提出建议:政府应该要求建筑公司出具保险单。政协收到建议后,将其转给了保险公司,而保险公司说自己无权下达政府条例。之后,沙博里就再也没有听到关于这件事的消息了。“中国必须逐渐树立个人的合法权利的观念,并学习如何实施这些权利的方法。”沙博理后来评论说。

1984年,也即国际友人成批进入政协的次年,沙博理获得了一次在人民大会堂进行大会发言的机会。当时的发言稿是他和爱泼斯坦、奥地利裔的魏璐诗、加拿大裔的陈必娣共同起草的,他们四人都是政协新闻出版界别的成员。由于沙博理在这四人中普通话讲得最好,还带有北京口音,大家推选他来宣读这份批评中国编辑的外文图书期刊在国外销售不力的发言。

“对这次经历,我感到很好。”沙博理说,“不只是因为它很难得,而且令人兴奋。它证明我们国外移民中来的政协委员,也能够真正参与,而且有用。中国人把在组织机构里作为摆设而不起作用的人叫做‘花瓶’。我们已经表明,我们不是外来的附属物。”

闭会期间,“洋委员”们也参加了不少调研活动。这些调研让沙博理感到兴奋:“这么走下去比看材料更真实。”

但真实的景象往往有积极也有消极。在视察边远贫困的农村地区时,爱泼斯坦为自己的所见感到震撼,他将这种震撼写在了回忆录中:“现代中国,同时存在着两种事实:一是快速进步,一是需要花大力气和长时间去克服高峰和低谷两个极端之间的差距。”

除了贫富差距外,腐败也是爱泼斯坦和其他几名国际友人关注的话题。爱老曾在两会上提出建议:所有查实的腐败官员,不论其触犯刑律的贪污数额大小,一律免职,永不启用。
傅莱也认为:“我们国家出现了一些新的问题,有些问题甚至是我原来不敢相信会出现的,比如腐败。”

“我同意马克思的观点,‘存在决定意识’,现在一些人意志不够坚强,所以就堕落了。腐败是个很严重的问题,如果不抓,将来是要很危险的;但我相信咱们国家能够最终制止腐败,因为我们已经战胜过很多困难。”傅莱曾在接受采访时这样说。

对马克思主义的信仰,是这批“洋委员”的普遍特征。“我已入暮年,但始终是一个马克思主义者。马克思主义产生于19世纪中叶,从一开始,就不断有人宣布它的‘死亡’,但直到现在,它一再地复活,并被奉为实践的指南。”爱泼斯坦在回忆录中说。

在政协工作中,爱老曾多次促请全国人大制定“合作社法”。他认为,尽管人民公社以失败告终,但在运输、销售等行业,合作社仍然很有用处:可以将中间利润留在农村、留给农民,让农民增加收入。

当然,国际友人们在政协中提出最多的建议,还是关于对外宣传的——实际上,他们中的不少人都承担了中共最早的外宣工作,可谓公共外交的先驱。

在政协会议上,爱泼斯坦曾提出,外宣英文杂志不能光有漂亮的包装,在内容方面也要提高,要讲求时效性;而沙博理则曾在小组发言上说:“这些年,看外电,看媒体,尤其是美国诬蔑、捏造我们的一些新闻内容,我觉得我们的媒体工作做得很不够,很多事情原来我们可以说得更清楚的,但是没有做。”

“这些问题慢慢都得到了共识,比如中央决定大力推动‘走出去’。”黄友义说,“这跟国家财力增长有关系,但我觉得跟他们这批国际友人不断的提议也有关系,他们在政协最大的贡献就是呼吁重视外宣。”

告别与传递

1988年,马海德去世,政协委员里的国际友人群体进入了告别年代。

20多年来,黄友义目睹了这批人中的一大部分相继离去。“每年春节的总理招待会上,座次经常在变化。爱泼斯坦曾经是很多年的首席,沙博理曾经非常靠后。到了今年,很多受邀的就是遗孀、遗属了。”

沙博理在这批“洋委员”中算是年轻的,也是唯一健在的,但已经97高龄的他也没有太多的精力参政议政了。周幼马记得,沙老最后一次现身两会的时候,出去上了一趟厕所,回来就找不到地方了,是周幼马帮他找到自己的座位,搀扶着他坐下。从那以后,周幼马再也没有在会场上见到过沙老。

以前几届两会上,因为中文水平高,沙博理在小组讨论中时常替陈必娣等委员念发言稿;但到了2008年,他连念自己的讲稿都已经很吃力了,是坐在他身边的原新闻出版总署副署长李东东主动担任了沙老的“代言人”。

作为新闻出版界别的召集人,近两年的两会结束时,李东东都会带着杨澜等委员到沙博理家中探望慰问。今年3月12日,沙博理对李东东们说:“我虽然没有到大会现场,但关于两会的新闻,我每天都通过电视、广播、网络密切关注。我很想念各位新闻出版界委员,每天在心里和你们一起参政议政。希望继续与大家一起学习、交流,努力履行委员的职责。”

黄友义也证实:沙博理始终在关注时事。就在上周,沙老还发电子邮件给他推荐了几篇英语文章,认为文中的观点值得了解。

明年的新一届政协委员名单中是否会有沙博理的名字,目前还是一个未知数。不过,无论答案是有还是无,在马海德当选政协委员近35年后,属于马海德、沙博理们的那个不可复制的时代都已经进入了尾声。

周幼马“接过”了父亲这一辈人的身份,4年前,他出现在本届政协委员名单上。“我的政协委员身份是根据我父亲对于中国革命和中国建设做的贡献,给予我的地位。”和父亲一样拥有标志性浓眉的周幼马说。

实际上,受父亲的人生影响,周幼马的经历亦可圈可点:出生在延安窑洞,与许多红色后代相熟,当年和杨尚昆的儿子杨绍明一起,一个骡子两个筐从延安到的北京。宋庆龄去世前十年,他还担任了宋的私人摄影师。

在政协的参政议政平台上,他所做的更多是父亲生前工作的一种延续。例如,他和母亲苏菲成立的马海德基金会,专注于麻风病人的救助,他曾提出关于支持基金会的提案,得到了民政部的优惠政策。

几天后,周幼马将和政协外事委员会的若干成员一起飞赴黎巴嫩——那里是他的祖籍地,那里的公园里有他父亲的铜像。马海德基金会和政协将出资一万美元,为当地的幼儿园添置设备,之前外交部还曾经给他们打了一口井。“对于父亲的老家人民,中国人民没有忘记他们,政协没有忘记他们。”周幼马说。

他更相信,中国人民不会忘记他父亲那一辈的“洋委员”们。“他们每个人是一本书,每个人的历史是值得留下的。”周幼马说,他期待这方面的研究力量得到更多支持。

关于作者

方可成, 南方周末, 记者,专栏作者
理解和谈论我们身处的这个世界。
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