對於中共六十周年國慶大閱兵,<經濟學人>一針見血地指出,一個老百姓無法自由地參與的慶典,何喜之有?(題目:Party Like It's '49,日期:Oct 1st 2009):

It was hardly a celebration, with no one allowed to line the streets or even stand on balconies to watch the troops and tanks parade through central Beijing. Amid tight security, China marked its National Day on October 1st with an extravaganza showing off a rapidly growing arsenal of sophisticated made-in-China weaponry.

Even homing pigeons, commonly kept by Beijing residents, had to stay in their cages (for fear of bombing pigeons, apparently). Kite-flying was banned. China did not want its first military parade in a decade to be marred by any hint of the unrest that has roiled the distant regions of Tibet and Xinjiang in the past two years. Citizens were encouraged to stay at home and watch the spectacular on television.

同期的另一篇文章(題目:China's Place in the World,日期:Oct 1st 2009)則指出中國宣稱「和平崛起」,卻選擇於國慶日展示軍力,其實是自打嘴巴,非常諷刺:

For a country that prides itself on its “peaceful rise”, it was an odd way to celebrate a birthday. The People’s Republic of China marked its diamond jubilee on October 1st with a staggering display of military muscle-flexing. Goose-stepping soldiers, tanks and intercontinental ballistic missiles filed through Tiananmen Square, past the eponymous Gate of Heavenly Peace, where, 60 years ago, as every Chinese schoolchild is taught (wrongly, it now seems), Mao Zedong declared that the Chinese people had “stood up”.


China’s leaders rightly point out that theirs is still a poor country which will naturally give priority to lifting its economic development. And this in one sense answers the question about the message conveyed by the National Day parade: its main audience was not the outside world, but China’s own people. With no popular mandate, the government’s legitimacy relies on its record in making China richer and stronger. The display of strength, showing how well it has done in this, hints at its own lack of confidence. For those worried about where China’s rise might lead, that the government is so insecure is not a comforting thought.



近期一篇分析中國經濟增長模式的文章(題目:The Spend is Nigh, July 30th 2009)就指出,要中國放棄出口帶動 (Export-oriented) 的增長模式,改而採取「擴大內需」(即是刺激私人消費)的經濟政策,有相當的難度。中國的個人和企業儲蓄率偏高(大約三成),是結構性因素所造成:中國缺乏社會安全網 (Society Safety Net)、(公營的)醫療和教育體制落後、國有銀行只借錢給大型國企、個人和民企借錢難、金融市場發展滯後、土地無法自由轉讓、個人缺乏遷移的自由等等。

要降低儲蓄率,政府必須進行多項非常艱巨的結構性改革,例如:建立社會保障制度、改革醫療和教育體制、讓人民幣升值和開放金融體系、令個人和企業更容易借錢、改革戶籍制度(讓人民自由遷移)、容許土地自由買賣等等。結果將會是減少中央政府對個人和企業的控制,背後牽涉到敏感的政治考慮,因此中國對於擴大內需,總是不情不願 (Half-hearted),寧願繼續用老法子刺激經濟增長,即是:政府增加固定資產投資(尤其是基建項目),以及繼續壓低人民幣匯價保住出口。文章的結尾是這樣說的:

China’s recent efforts to boost domestic spending have helped to maintain robust growth and reduce its trade surplus. But excessive levels of investment are not a recipe for sustained rapid growth. Unless it is prepared to embrace difficult structural reforms and to allow the yuan to climb, China’s commitment to rebalancing will remain half-hearted. In the long run that will be bad news for China itself as well as for the rest of the world.


另一個「中國通」(Old China Hand) 早已經知道答案,但是愛國華文傳媒一貫迴避的題目,便是中國的經濟數據到底有沒有做假,又或者滲水的程度有多大。<經濟學人>多年來刊出多篇文章,直指中國統計數據水份高不可信(例如:2009 年初公佈的官方 GDP 數據有可能做假,原因是用電量的增幅落後於 GDP 的增幅)。

<經濟學人>曾經找獨立的經濟研究顧問(一間以北京為基地,名叫 Dragonomics 的公司),重新整理中國的 GDP 數據,然後跟官方的數字並列和制圖,結論是中國的「真正」經濟循環,其波動程度應該比官方數字所反映的更大,而政治敏感的年份,官方數字就越有可能做假。

這類文章,最近期的一篇,題目叫 The Art of Chinese Massage(May 21st 2009),標題用 Massage 已經可圈可點,熟悉商業英語的讀者見了,一定會發笑(因為 Massage 一詞除了按摩之外,亦可解作做假帳,港式粵語叫「督數」),還要加上 Art(藝術),直譯便是「中國式督數藝(偽)術」(粵語:藝、偽同音)。文章的結論是近年的情況稍有改善,官方數據比從前可信,原因是中國的經濟數據越來越受人關注,眾目睽睽,國家統計局不敢太離譜:

Andy Rothman, an economist at CLSA, a regional broker, believes that Chinese statistics are much more trustworthy than they used to be. This is partly because there are alternative numbers to go on; CLSA, for example, produces its own purchasing-managers’ index. There are also more private-sector economists keeping tabs on China than there were a decade ago. The more eyes there are on China, and the more crucial its economic performance becomes for the rest of the world, the harder it is for officials to tamper with the speedometer.





舉例:對於香港的六四二十週年紀念晚會,<經濟學人>有報導(題目:Feeling Special, 日期:Jun 4th 2009),它是這樣說的:

But Hong Kong’s elite remains staunchly pro-business and hence pro-China. As the Chinese government dithers over the democratic reforms promised in the city’s mini-constitution, they have remained passive. Bao Pu, a Hong Kong-based editor of Zhao’s book, sees this as dangerous, and fears that if Hong Kong people are not vigilant, their freedoms “will be gradually taken away”. The nagging fear at every June 4th commemoration in Hong Kong is that it may be the last.

我相信大部份的香港人都不會同意這一段的最後一句。你隨便找個香港人問一問,我們會告訴你,2009 年的六四晚會絕對不會是最後一次,因為香港人不會放棄紀念六四。如果我們放棄了,那香港也不再是香港了。當然,如果你問中環的愛國商人又或者傳統的愛國陣營,那又是另一回事。



幾年前<經濟學人>曾經刊出一篇文章(題目:The Filipina Sisterhood: An Anthropology of Happiness, 日期:Dec 20th 2001)(註二),探討香港的菲律賓女傭為何比她們的華人僱主更快樂。文章歌頌菲律賓女人於困境中互相扶持的精神,對於菲傭僱主(典型的香港中產家庭)卻語帶挖苦,形容中國人famously cranky and often rude(中譯:出名古怪以及一貫粗魯)。

如果你是香港人,曾經被跟家中的菲傭有過不愉快的經驗,這篇文章會令你不滿。它引發不少討論,陶傑在中文大學的新聞傳播學院做兼職講師,曾經用這篇文章做教材,跟學生討論何謂 Bias(偏見)。(註三)


Seeking to ensure that women are not forced into prostitution, Hong Kong makes it illegal for anyone but the prostitute to profit from her services. A laudable sentiment, perhaps. But the consequence is that a sex worker in Hong Kong may not hire the basic protection an office worker would expect, nor is she permitted under the law to share her quarters with other women. As a result, prostitutes are uniquely vulnerable.

這是協助妓女的 NGO (例如:紫藤)的觀點,但是如果你訪問香港的警察,又或者妓女的鄰居(即是:街坊),又是另一個故事。但是文章沒有容納警察和街坊(學院派的說法:其他「持份者」即是 Stakeholders)的觀點。


<經濟學人>比較能夠抓住重心以及緊貼事態發展的香港題材,是企業管治 (Corporate Governance)(例如:電訊盈科私有化種票事件、上市公司董事禁售期的爭議)。外號「股壇長毛」的 David Webb(註四)近年在<經濟學人>的曝光率頗高,多次接受訪問,被形容為 a rare critic of Hong Kong’s interlinked corporations(題目:Indefensible,日期:Jan 8th 2009)。對於「股壇長毛」,<經濟學人>向來是肯定和表揚。

在香港,熟悉股票市場的人都知道 David Webb 。這位獨立股評人近年因為積極推動企業管治、捍衛小股東權益而聲名鵲起。他是個富有爭議性的人物,有人認為他是伸張正義的外籍「股俠」,善於替被欺壓的小股東出頭,是值得信賴的冤情大使。電訊盈科私有化事件中,就有知情者向 David Webb 報料,提供大股東涉嫌種票的第一手證據。也有愛國傳媒向他發動人身攻擊,認為這個洋人(而且是英國人)有計劃地利用傳媒替自己做勢,然後「霸佔」交易所要職,有心奪權,威脅到「國家金融安全」,因此非趕盡殺絕不可。



(註一)在亞洲地區,<經濟學人>跟將於今年十二月停刊的<遠東經濟評論>(Far East Economic Review) 一樣,都曾經開罪新加坡政府,被控誹謗。可以想像,<經濟學人>跟偉大祖國的關係也好不到那裡。

(註二)這篇文章(題目:The Filipina Sisterhood)的全文被轉貼到:
The Filipina Sisterhood 的作者的博客:

(註三)根據中文大學新聞傳播學院的網頁,陶傑任教的科目是 COM3131 傳播研讀專題﹙一﹚以及 COM5632 新聞學專題研究 (二) 。學院的兼任講師名單:

(註四)David Webb 的網頁:http://webb-site.com/
維基百科(中文版):David Webb