New on the site, the final version of the essay I've been working on for much of the summer. For some reason, this text does not seem to have interested readers as much as other pieces by Qin. It should. His long, dispassionate comparison of China and South Africa, in which he argues that both of their "economic miracles" were the result of status discrimination (South Africa against blacks, China against peasants) leads to the inexorable conclusion that if we condemn one, we have to condemn the other--or should China get a pass because their wretched treatment of peasants is not "racist?"
And even if the piece is ten years old and couched in terms of comparative economic history, I think it is relevant today, even to the events in Hong Kong. One point Qin makes is: China's real problem is not only that it treats its peasants the way pre-democratic South Africa treated its blacks, but also that it treats its city dwellers far less well than South Africa treated even its poor whites. What, then, does greater integration into mainland society mean for super urban Hong Kong?
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