The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to speak Chinese.

Everyone can speak Chinese. All you need to know is that the only language the Chinese understand is money. So, key to fluency in Chinese, lies in the wallet.

Now, there is a reason I say this. Yesterday, China executed a mentally ill man for a crime he did not knowingly commit. I very much doubt that any other country in the world, at China's level of development, would have done so. Thus, China is an aberration by world standards.

Many developed nations spoke out against what China wished to do...they pointed to the man's SELF-EVIDENT mental illness as a reason for commuting his sentence - yet China refused to listen. The reason they did not listen seems clear. The protesting nations spoke in terms of "human rights" - well, China does not care about human rights. The protesting nations spoke in terms of the value of human life - well, China does not value human life. The protesting nations spoke about the rule of law - well, China does not care about the rule of law. So, China killed him anyway. The reason China did not listen is because the protesting nations and organizations were speaking the wrong language. There is only ONE language the Chinese really understand: money. Thus, the way to make the Chinese listen is very simple - all the British had to do, to save Akmal Shaikh, was to say this: "We will suspend all trade with China until you guarantee Akmal Shaikh's safety. No British company or individual will be allowed to buy any Chinese goods until he is set free and returned to us for suitable treatment."

China would have listened to such language. You see, Britain is China's third largest trading partner, globally. Trade with Britain is worth tens of billions of US dollars annually to China. They would do quite a lot to avoid losing such income. In their eyes, I am fairly sure that setting one man free would be a minor matter compared to losing tens of billions of dollars of income.

So, in future, if the world needs to make China listen, they should just propose suspending trade if they do not. This, apart from war, is probably the only way to make China listen to the wishes of the international community.

This suggestion comes too late for Akmal - but it could be used in any situation in which China is about to commit what is, by international standards, an atrocity, or grave injustice.

There is another aspect of this that has been overlooked. China refused to accept Akmal's mental illness as a reason for clemency (although it has been reported that Akmal's defence was so incoherent, in the court, that the judges openly laughed at him - a very disturbing reaction, in itself. How often have you heard of a judge laughing at a defendant, anywhere in the world?). It is clear, that if China ignored Akmal's mental state that they are likely to ignore the mental state, also, of any Chinese national who comes before them. Thus, their judiciary is, most probably, committing many such acts of terrible and cruel injustice, annually, to THEIR OWN PEOPLE. So, it would be fitting if the international community of nations and organizations lobbied China for a change on their rules concerning the prosecution of the mentally ill. It may even be necessary to apply the kind of pressure mentioned above to get them to listen - because, after all, like most authoritarian regimes, China basically ignores world opinion.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:42 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thus, the way to make the Chinese listen is very simple - all the British had to do, to save Akmal Shaikh, was to say this: 'We will suspend all trade with China until you guarantee Akmal Shaikh's safety. No British company or individual will be allowed to buy any Chinese goods until he is set free and returned to us for suitable treatment.'"

Dear Valentine,

Here's another way to look at it: isn't it telling that Britain did not do as you suggest?


4:19 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. telling.

Not really. You see Britain probably expected all of the international outcry, the appeals from governments and NGOs, the affidavits from people who knew him, that he was undoubtedly very ill mentally, would have had the right effect. The British could properly have believed that their approach would work. It may never have occurred to them that modern China was capable of ignoring such a weight of international appeal.

So, regarding your point: should there be a FUTURE case that is similar and the British don't try the economic strong arm approach - then they are being negligent in their duty to their citizens and fellow humans, yes.

Thanks for your thought.

Have a Happy New Year.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Fox said...

"So, in future, if the world needs to make China listen, they should just propose suspending trade if they do not. This, apart from war, is probably the only way to make China listen to the wishes of the international community."

I doubt the Chinese would have budged. You underestimate the extent of nationalistic sentiments amongst the Chinese public, however irrational they may be. The Chinese are very prickly about foreign interference especially from a country that fought two wars in the 19th century for the right to force opium on China. So, from the perspective of the Chinese public, it is quite rich of UK to plead the case for mercy for Akmal Shaikh.

Akmal Shaikh was doomed the moment Brown decided to plead publicly for him. No Chinese government would have acceded to such a plea because of the potential backlash from their own people. In fact, no government in the world would have done so. Any concession by the Chinese government would have been seen as an unacceptable sign of weakness by its people.

And do you really think Brown does not understand that?

12:31 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

"The protesting nations spoke about the rule of law - well, China does not care about the rule of law. So, China killed him anyway."

You are mistaken. The rule of law means that you are even-handed in your application of the law (however harsh or unjust the law may be). So, China was practising the rule of law when it executed Akmal Shaikh. They executed him as they would any other drug smugger, Chinese or not.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I find your understanding of China disturbing, Fox. If they are as resistive as you suggest then the world is going to have a great many difficulties with China in the decades ahead - and those difficulties will only grow as China grows in economic strength (and, therefore, confidence in its ability to get its own way).

I find myself concerned about the future.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Not really, Fox. You have overlooked his mental illness. As far as I understand it, (though I might have misunderstood), Chinese law is supposed to take note of mental illness - but in Akmal's case they did not. So, the rule of law, in this sense, was not applied.

Yes. The idea of even-handedness - even it means all are treated equally badly - would be a description of a rule of law - but here, I think, they failed to note important characteristics of Akmal that had bearing on the type of punishment that was appropriate.

Thanks for your comment.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous bill said...

you sir are the biggest racist and bigot i have ever seen, and are hypocritical about calling others racists yourself.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You are funny. You are funny precisely because you are what you say I am.

If you are the same Bill as has commented in the past, then you have shown a lot of ire in your postings, a lot of hate and a lot of distaste for Caucasians. Even if, however, you are not the same Bill (I didn’t post all of his postings for obvious reasons), your wording is very strong in this case alone.

To state the view that you have, you must be completely ignorant of my life. You clearly know nothing about me at all. You also, quite clearly, have not even read this blog carefully. I am not a racist. I am not racist in any way at all. All my life I have preferentially had friends from different races. In fact, almost all of my friends are non-Caucasian and non-British. It has always been this way with me. Were I “racist” as you claim, then it would be impossible for me to have made the choice of friends that I have made in my life. I have had friends of all races and most nations, in my life. No race is excluded. I have even had more than my fair share of Chinese friends – both from the mainland and from such satellite cultures as Taiwan and Singapore. The question is: are you as multicultural and cosmopolitan and colour-blind in your choice of friends? Few are.

I find it a typical Chinese response for the Chinese to attack anyone who criticizes their wonderful, perfect, best in the world society, for being imperfect in any way, by accusing them of racism. This is, in fact, the STANDARD, STEREOTYPICAL CHINESE RESPONSE. However, it is almost always never true. People who point to the deficiencies of Chinese society are not being racist – they are being truthful. However, I am aware that truth can get you into trouble in Chinese societies. I use the plural deliberately because even in Singapore, which is another Chinese society giving lip service to the idea of being multicultural, the truth can get you into trouble pretty quickly, if said in the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong person. But heh, no doubt this characteristic is what makes Chinese societies such great places to live and grow up in. After all who WANTS freedom of speech, anyway? What on Earth is it good for? The world should be thankful to Chinese societies for eliminating freedom of speech as an awkward, irritating concept that ought to be banned everywhere for the good of the People.

Democracy is such a bad idea isn’t it? I mean who on Earth would want the right to choose their leadership? What an appalling idea: it must be stamped out at once…preferably with tanks. (Now, guess which society has already done that one to its own people.)

China is a wonderful place and a wonderful society…if you are a high-ranking member of the Communist party. It is a wonderful place, if you have no ideas of your own and no wish to express them. It is a wonderful place if your central goal in life is to make money. If, however, you have personal views and the wish to express them, you might wish to live elsewhere – for most places are better in that respect: try Africa, even. It is a vast improvement in the personal freedom department, compared to China.

People who are unimpressed with the nature of modern Chinese society are not being racist – they are simply viewing China with certain moral, ethical and political standards in mind. If you have such standards, you can only be quietly appalled by quite a few of the things China does. If you are not appalled by many of the things modern China does, then it argues that you do NOT have those moral, ethical and political standards.

If you really want to find a racist, just pick your average Chinese national. Any Tibetan or Uighur would be able to tell you just how racist they are. They are racist enough to kill their minorities wholesale. Then again, even outside China, many people of Chinese origin make racism their personal speciality. Just ask any Singaporean Malay or Indian whether they have encountered racism in Chinese dominated Singapore.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Then again, many of the overseas Chinese that I have befriended in my life are happy to be living in the West away from China. Do you really think they would be so happy, were China so wonderful? One thing they enjoy is the ability to speak and think freely without risk to themselves or their families, if their views are not shared by the ruling elite.

I have also encountered brainwashed, zealous Chinese patriots – but these people tend not to become my friends, because their conversation is very one dimensional and boring. They also tend not to live overseas for long – unless they are spies, of course.

Regarding my comment that the Chinese are obsessed about money: this is self-evidently true. Anyone of any acquaintance with Chinese culture knows this. If you think it is "racist" to point to the obvious truth, then you are being untruthful to yourself. All Chinese dominated cultures are obsessed with money: it is their primary concern, indeed, "passion". It is not racist to point to a truth.

Now, if you had troubled yourself to read a little more of what I write and find out a little bit more about me, you would not have the view that I am a racist. Let me put the points quite simply here for you:

The vast majority of my friends in my life, have been from racial minorities from all races and most nations on Earth.

My wife is Asian and my children are Eurasian.

I have spent much of my life living in foreign countries, particularly Asia.

None of these choices would have been made by someone who is at all racist – since I am Irish, not Asian.

If you still think I am racist, then you really are not worth writing to, any longer. So, I will stop here.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How refreshing (and courageous) to read of a spade being called a spade, especially when it is written from within a Chinese society.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you. I think it is important to write the truth, otherwise the lies, that are so often told, will stand unchallenged and the world will be gulled.

Happy New Year.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Sharky said...

It is very sad, how a blog about an individual who were not given due process has degenerated to calls of racism and bigotry.

An intelligent, mature and enlightened response would be more productive than degenerative name calling. So lets keep the comments healthy and focused on the subject.

Every country have their own laws and regulations. Just because we think the law in one country is 'bad' does not mean it is 'bad' to that country. The fact is, he was caught with the drugs. And China was sending a message that drug smuggling will not be tolerated. As a sovereign state, China was acting fully in its own right.

Instead of, creating much noise about how he was mentally incompetent to know about it and was fooled into smuggling it, the British Authorities or his supporters should have focused their energies to investigate on their own, if the claims were true/untrue. But sadly, they did not. Until now, no one has proven who the real drug offenders were, just theories.

We must remember, they are many others 'fooled' into drug smuggling and are now languishing in jails or have been executed. And why are they not being helped? Do they have to be mentally incapacitated and their story to be picked up by the news organizations before they can be a worthy cause to fight for by the politicians or people who have their own agenda?

2:20 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is a sad situation for anyone to be tricked into a criminal situation and then to be punished for it - whether they be mentally competent or not.

Yes, many such cases are probaby ignored. We get to hear of the ones that someone lobbies for and picks up. No doubt most are overlooked.

Thanks for making a call for maturity of discussion rather than accusations of racism.

Best wishes

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"all the British had to do, to save Akmal Shaikh, was to say this: "We will suspend all trade with China until you guarantee Akmal Shaikh's safety. No British company or individual will be allowed to buy any Chinese goods until he is set free and returned to us for suitable treatment.""

I doubt this will happen. The British government won't risk their entire population to save one man in China.

How many British businesses will collapse if the entire country severs all trade ties with China?

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since most have expressed that Akmal Shaikh was "mentally" ill yet nobody bother to help him before he committed an act which is punishable by law in the country in which the act was committed.

Why those who knew his condition did not help him get medical treatment before? They are likely to be "blamed" as well.

- thinkingaloud

2:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. You are right, "thinkingaloud". Akmal Shaikh should have been helped long ago. It was blindingly obvious that he was very sick. After all, would a sane person think that a song about little bunny rabbits would save the world? Especially when sung by a tuneless man in his fifties, with no prior musical experience or ability?

It is sad.

Yes. All who stood by and watched him without reaching out to help, are to blame as well, for his eventual demise. After all, his death was CAUSED by the actions his illness led him to.

Thanks for your comment.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Well, the British should, if it values human life over money. Then again, it would have no real affect on Britain because they could always switch trade to India or some other cheap supplier of goods.

I understand your view however.

7:51 AM  

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