Chinese scholars visit CPP

By Chris Bashaw

A delegation of eight Chinese academic leaders hosted by Cal
Poly Pomona will observe voting procedures throughout Los Angeles
County today.

“These [scholars] will be the engines of political reform in
China,” said Ray Wang, dean of University Library, “because when
these people write and when these people speak, people listen; they
are influential scholars and influential leaders.”

Because of his affiliation with the Carter Center during a
previous observation, Wang played an integral part in the
delegation’s week-long stay at Cal Poly Pomona’s Kellogg West
on-campus hotel.

Wang said the Carter Center ” a non-profit organization founded
by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that seeks to prevent
conflicts between and within countries, improve worldwide health
and of promote democracy ” paid for the entirety of the
delegation’s visit.

The delegation briefly met University President Michael Ortiz
last Friday after a briefing on U.S. politics and key issues in the
2010 midterm elections, presented by George Hong, a professor of
history and co-director of the Center on Religion and Chinese
Society at Purdue University.

The purpose of the delegation’s observation is to survey the
United States’ upcoming midterm elections and overall democratic
processes.

“They are going to observe and see how Americans do an election
and hopefully write articles and tell the powers that be how this
should be done,” said Wang.

It’s considered an important mission by Yawei Liu, director of
the China program at the Carter Center, because people in China
have a skewed view of American democratic processes.

“In China, there is false perception of how democracy works in
the United States,” said Liu. “We want to use these eye-witness
reports to convey to our readers what exactly this so-called
American democracy is about, which has a very tarnished image in
China.”

Liu added that “money issues, emptiness of the candidates, the
lack of civic education” and the “shallowness of voters” are what
tends to stand out in the collective mind of the Chinese populace
when American democracy is brought up.

“I think there’s a lot of misconceived notions about what
American democracy is and how it works, so we ask our scholars to
write reports and put them out at our website so our readers can
have a more thorough understanding of what exactly is going on in
the United States,” said Liu.

Added Liu: “I don’t think Chinese scholars are in the position
to be critical of the election; it seems they are coming from a
country that doesn’t even have elections like these at all.

One of the scholars, Hu Wei, dean of the School of International
and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said he was
“surprised” by the concept of referendum ” a form of direct
democracy where citizens vote on legislation ” and found its
practice in the United States, especially in California, “very
interesting.”

Liu said compared to the United States, Chinese democracy is
still in its infancy.

“China has not reached that stage where citizens can initiate a
proposition to legislate through vote ” no, China is far from that.
In terms of challenges, issues confronting government, they’re
probably more or less the same; but in terms of elections,
referendum or initiatives, China and the United States are Heaven
and Earth ” they are not comparable at all.”

Tomorrow the delegation is scheduled for a debriefing with staff
from the Carter Center and a trip to Venice Beach, Santa Monica
Beach or Rodeo Drive.

The delegation is scheduled to return to leave Los Angeles this
Thursday.

Chinese scholars visit CPP

Pedro Corona / The Poly Post

Chinese scholars visit CPP

Chinese scholars visit CPP

Pedro Corona / The Poly Post

Chinese scholars visit CPP

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