Integrity is Hard in China

The integrity issue people pointed out in the comment section of this blog Integrity of Resume is deep rooted in the current system of China. The current system makes it so hard to keep integrity. Here are some examples:

  • Education. Although questioning authority is a virtue, it is so hard to do so in the current exam driven tests. There are fences everywhere to prevent students to think about. If a student really pursues the truth, and asks questions related to the culture revolution, China’s involvement in Korean war, he will be in big trouble, so is his/her teacher. The reason is political reason.
  • GN left an interesting comment about the question “What he did 20 years ago”. If his provide the real answer, he will be in jail.
  • Today, everyday there are fake news in the media. Comments related to the truth are always deleted.
  • For me, when I write blog, to keep honest to my heart, I have to avoid the most sensitive topics. I know there is a big area of topics I cannot touch. As foreign media reported, I tend to “shy away” from them. To tell the truth is easy, but to bear the tremendous cost (including safety of life, or future of yourself, or family) is hard.
  • Ridiculous rules are not changeable, then cheating can be the only choice. It is just the ridiculous situation when you see always-red traffic lights on all directions, or the speed limitation on an expressway is set to 5 km/hour. If there is nothing you can do, you break the law. If you are asked what you did, and tell you you will lose everything, and you are supposed to tell a lie as everyone else, you face a hard choice.

Human nature is the same. I received enough negative comments under the blog How I drive in Shanghai. Don’t be too quick to justify others behavior without being there yourself. When we look at the biggest tragedy like what Nazi did in WWII, we know it is the system that went wrong, not just the people involved. We are in the tough times in the Chinese history to face these systematic problems.

Having said that, as always, I am optimistic about the future of China. The dishonest behavior will be less when people can remove the fear they have in the bottom of their heart and build a system for the “good people”, and start to allow the universal principle to survive on this land.

12 thoughts on “Integrity is Hard in China

  1. DonDon

    Jianshuo, you raised many good points on Integrity issue. More importantly, ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM. This is the core theory of administrative evil; it is the system makes things go wrong, not just people per se. A question is worthy to ask: in what way could people remove the fear of being integrity in China? I have something on my mind:

    1. People cheat because of the lack of equality and equity. There are so many successful stories in China show that one doesn’t need to work hard or honestly to accomplish something.

    2. Like you said, people are afraid of what they said might get them into troubles. The system should be ashamed of it because it has to threaten its people to shut up. However, we have to admit; only a small portion of people had the willingness to fight for it. Moreover, the system and political elites in the system have no intention to change it; they are purposely keeping their eyes shut. Two reasons: Integrity is not their first priority, and they have to protect themselves.

    3. There is no ethics class in the education system except elementary school. Our politics classes only teach us how to remember Maxis and Maoist, but fail to let us know how valuable the integrity is, as well as how to protect the integrity in tough times and make hard choices.

    How to change this? I would argue this can be started from education and call for action for social elites. If there is the absence of integrity, we must start to act right now, spread the ideas through blogs with a moderate way. Trying best to spread good stories and give incentives to them. I am really happy to see this trend is actually developing, I can see more news and reports’ openness on Weibo and some social media. People like you also work on influencing people surround you, and they will influence people around them too.

  2. Lareux

    Integrity is something you have to value intrinsically. It is a value that is expected and admired in America’s Midwest. Within my circle of friends, anyone who is lacking integrity is either shunned or barely tolerated by the people I associate with. Basically, you get only one chance, if you blow it, you will loose our respect and you will be kept at an arms length. That is just the way the culture is here…

  3. Benjamin

    Jianshuo, you did touch the sensitive, but interesting topic here. :-)

    The integrity people cares much is definitely the part related to ethics. As it is defined in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity, it’s deeply rooted in culture. What’s more, the measurement and evaluation about it is also rooted in culture.

    Ethics is evolving, not only about tolerance — I mean likes/dislikes are evolving. So you won’t get the same consensus for any ethics argument across time.

    And culture is obviously diversified, especially among the readers of this blog. So you won’t get consensus even for now.

    If you put Chinese version of your previous article into your Chinese blog, I bet you won’t get more than 1 reply. As I believe silence is the culture consensus for this topic in China.

  4. GN

    I don’t think you can separate the “system” from its people. Systems were made by people, maybe a few in numbers, and supported by people, in large numbers. Otherwise it can not last. Silence is indeed a form of consensus. Nazi Germany was supported by many, too many, so was Japan of WWII, so was the non-stop-“movements”-30 years of Mainland. If you haven’t, you may want to read 季羡林的”牛棚杂忆”. He gave some rare accounts of his own actions in the difficulty times… it was hard to come from people at his level of that generation.

    I agree that one can’t/shouldn’t quick judge others. But if a society as a whole doesn’t have/hold moral standards, and simply using “system” as the excuse for every wrong doing. The future is not going to be bright.

  5. Benjamin

    好吧,NG,你逼我只能开中文了。既然在这楼上填了块瓦就再来块儿吧,今天稍闲。

    毫无疑问,道德体系的约束力量薄弱是个系统问题,并没有人逃避责任,只是做了分内的事情。

    毛想用意识形态代替道德规范,所以把中国的传统道德蓝本–儒家–放弃了,破四旧对于占大多数人口的汉人来说放弃了儒家、佛教、道教、等等。台湾还继续用儒家来约束社会行为,对比一下就知道了。为了挽救中国的经济,邓则扬弃了毛的意识形态,但改革开放设立的价值体系过于单一—-这是美中不足的。而目前道德重建又肯定不是我党priority one的事情,没有人专心做这个事情。更糟糕的是中国目前除了道德体系薄弱,还有没有信仰,没有宗教的问题。当然这也是我们中国人能在30年时间里面这么野蛮地长大的一个原因。

    建硕本身是遵循儒家所谓君子的标准在要求自己的。比如下面这篇《正直是公司的基石》就让我想到了论语的一些篇章

    http://home.wangjianshuo.com/cn/20100605_ccc.htm

      有子曰:”信近于义,言可复也;恭近于礼,远耻辱也;因不失其亲,亦可宗也。”

      「译文」

      有子说:”讲信用要符合于义,(符合于义的)话才能实行;恭敬要符合于礼,这样才能远离耻辱;所依靠的都是可靠的人,也就值得尊敬了。”

    儒家有儒家的道德尺度和规范,其完整程度有甚于西方道德体系。比如儒家追求仁义礼智信,其中这个信就是和integrity有些类似。不过它排在末尾–毕竟人治的社会和契约的社会还是有不少区别。

    Lareux提到了国外对于integrity是一种他律,而且在中西部是严格的enforcement。但是在中国,儒家决不是这样,它是自律,它对不遵守它的人非常宽容,下面这个片段讲的就是这种宽容可以到达什么程度。

    子夏之门人问交于子张。子张曰:”子夏云何?”对曰:”子夏曰:’可者与之,其不可者拒之。'”子张曰:”异乎吾所闻:君子尊贤而容众,嘉善而矜不能。我之大贤与,于人何所不容?我之不贤与,人将拒我,如之何其拒人也?”

      「译文」

      子夏的学生向子张寻问怎样结交朋友。子张说:”子夏是怎么说的?”答道:”子夏说:’可以相交的就和他交朋友,不可以相交的就拒绝他。'”子张说:”我所听到的和这些不一样:君子既尊重贤人,又能容纳众人;能够赞美善人,又能同情能力不够的人。如果我是十分贤良的人,那我对别人有什么不能容纳的呢?我如果不贤良,那人家就会拒绝我,又怎么谈能拒绝人家呢?”

    那么这就属于典型的文化差异,不是推托之辞。

    再有,如果整个国家在意识形态之类大是大非的问题上面指驴为马的确对诚信来说是个很大的破坏。还是引用论语的话吧。

      子曰:”道千乘之国,敬事而言,节用而爱人,使民以时。”

      「译文」

      孔子说:”治理一个拥有一千辆兵车的国家,就要严谨认真地办理国家大事而又恪守信用,诚实无欺,节约财政开支而又爱护官吏臣僚,役使百姓要不误农时”。

    (如果任何互联网监管方面的concern可删除)

  6. GN

    Benjamin, I didn’t realize that my post could bring out this much 之乎者也, 不敢当。

    I agree there are some very valuable messages in the traditional teaching. But the proof is in the pudding. History shows “君子之美” didn’t/couldn’t produce a good society… for as far back as we can read about it. How is that it would this time in the modern days?! Buy the way, you could found similar good lines in all “good books” from all corners of the earth.

    A county of 君子, sounds good… where are you going to get the empire!

    哀!

  7. GN

    I don’t have a solution. I wouldn’t believe in anybody who says he/she has. I can only look at what happened in other civilization when they were at junctions like this. I do believe there has to be open discussion and debating (I don’t mean 大辩论kind of debate but the process and the opinions should be made known to people) … it got to be conducted openly, honestly, and with good faith. If people like you need to worry about what you wrote earlier, then the “weather” is not right. It would be our “saver” if the party one day truly accepts that when people don’t agree, in most of times, it means they care.

    I’d like to make it very clear that I do believe there are a lot of very true and profound thoughts/teachings in Chinese traditional philosophies. But 中庸has clear side-effects… it should not be over looked. I wish what you said was not true that if WJS posted his thoughts on this topic in Chinese, there won’t be much responds.

  8. John

    I do not know why people are araid to say it – Mao and his party are, and have always been evil in its core. In addition, you have systematic corruption of language and culture by dynasties and elite for the last 2000 years, a major contribution to the technology of brainwashing. Today the majority of Chinese are reduced to stupid, totally unable to see their dire state.

    Only small percentage of the young, below 25 y generation shows signs of spirit awakening.

    Communists are fascist in heart, and they are never going to give up their power, which is entirely based on corruption of human soul.

    The king is naked. This country has dark days ahead. And perhaps a war. The Communist proficiency in propaganda and extreme economic incompetence are a historic fact.

    The fact is foreign corporation run the majority of Chinese production economy (75%) and all is based on corporate greed, western governments’ socialist mentality and corporate control over the most political and economic decisions.

    People around the world should understand that we all must stand together to oppose domestic and foreign corporatisation of our democracy. China is going nowhere, until Communists are kicked out. They have no intention opening their domestic markets, building the country etc. Their system is a modern copy of their ageless feudal structure.

    The society is corrupted to the bone – no morality, ethics, love or any traces of normal human spirituality. Only living in this country for 4-5 years will open your eyes.

    Political correctness is doing disservice to us all. Stop buying cheap Chinese crap, stop giving Chinese their tests, demand from them all you demand from the people in the West and lead by example. This country strives on pirating and corruption – domestic and international.

    The core – everything, but the evil is in the CCP.

    In fact CCP is building a Global Empire and de facto is at war against the democracy. They have to prove their model is the best, by reducing the world to their model.

    Be aware.

  9. Cal

    People like John are too blinded by their hate towards the CCP to constructively give any feasible concept of improvement. If anything the CCP did what was necessary to create the massive socioeconomic improvements to China today, otherwise Chinese would be worse off than India if left to such destructive ‘idealists’.

  10. mikew

    John in “Their system is a modern copy of their ageless feudal structure.” should be”Their system is a modern copy of their ageless bureaucratic ladder structure.”

  11. mikew

    the chinese improvements are extremely slow and cautious, we see the top of this bureaucratic ladder structure toppled again and again in history in the bloody flunkidom/rebellion cycles in roughly 50-200 y time span and now it is not so bloody with a ten year toppling cycle, thnks to Dong’s wisdom.

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